Fantasy Architecture in Portugal

As part of the 2011 Bridges Math Art Conference at Coimbra in Portugal, we went on a day’s excursion to see the Bussaco Palace hotel. High on a hill on the edge of a forest, and attached to an ancient Carmelite monastry, this fantastical edifice was built as a royal hunting lodge more than a hundred years ago.  It is pure nineteenth-century romantic fairytale, a mixture of all sorts of stylistic influences, with a beautiful lake garden in front.It was built at the turn of the 19th – 20th century by an architect called Luigi Manini in what is described as “Manueline-Gothic” style. Pure 19th century fantasy to me, with borrowed elements from Gothic, Baroque and fairy-tale illustrations, with a touch of Colonial thrown in, with as much extravagant detail in stone-carving as could possibly be fitted in. It’s a place to dream about, and I couldn’t resist playing about with some of the photos I took. Some of the images remind me of some of Gustave Dore’s illustrations, so I have added some reproductions.

This has a Colonial feel to it

The carving on the stone around the arches is so intricate, full of detailed figures and ornamentations, like a storybook.

This looks unreal, like part of an enchanted castle

Illustration from "Orlando Fusioso" by Gustave Dore

The Bussaco Palace hotel is evocative of Gustave Dore’s mid 19th century illustrations to “Orlando Furioso” – almost intentionally, one might think, when you see the huge Azuejos panels with paintings in a similar vein lining the verandah walls.















Panels of traditional Portuguese Azulejos tiles with storybook scenes line the walls of the verandahs.


One last picture on this post showing some of the carved stone details on the verandah arches.