Located at the heart of the Dão Wine region, Santar is a small village of 1000 inhabitants, known for its beautiful manor houses and centuries-old palaces. It offers a unique combination of religious and noble architecture, terroir, wonderful natural landscapes and winemaking traditions. It is also home to a constellation of magnificent historical gardens around the main estates– Casa dos Condes de Santar e Magalhães, Casa das Fidalgas, Casa Ibérico Nogueira and Casa da Magnólia, among others – which have been restored and united under a single landscape plan designed by the celebrated Spanish landscape architect Fernando Caruncho.
Gardens among the vineyards
Santar Garden Village is an invitation to discover a charming historical village through its terraced gardens, in a continuous narrative full of beauty, gracefulness and tradition. Surrounded by vineyards Santar is a special place, whose hidden nature is revealed by the architect through his serene, almost contemplative approach to landscaping.
The visit highlights the projects’ three main pillars: geometry, light and water. The architect’s intention was to integrate the multiple elements of the garden – mineral, flora, water – with a special focus on proportion, scale and volume. He visited the site several times before starting the design process, to be able to immerse himself in the spirit of the place, the topography and architecture, the vegetation, the light variations and even the color of the sky.
This one-of-a-kind project is also generously open to the community: Santar’s gardens have the particularity of being surrounded and sometimes mingled with the vineyards, orchards and vegetable gardens. In this way, locals are invited to plant and nurture communitarian vegetable gardens where they grow organic produce.
The starting point of the garden’s design is the geometrical grid, a true “receptacle” for light. Water is also central to the project – perhaps a tribute to the architect’s Andalusian roots and their Moorish influence – playing an aesthetical, symbolic and sensorial role.
In this visit you will discover each garden’s charms in a delightful program. The first stop is at the Casa dos Condes de Santar e Magalhães, a striking example of mannerist architecture with baroque and neoclassical elements. The central courtyard and the majestic Fonte dos Cavalos (Horse’s Fountain) with its white and blue azulejos drawing inspiration by the panels at Palácio da Fronteira are a must.
Among Camellias and Magnolias
From here we go to the neighboring Casa das Magnólias, whose origins date back to the 17thcentury. A centennial magnolia tree is one of the highlights of the visit, as well as the camellias, the granite pond and the splendorous views of the Serra da Estrela mountains.
The Casa Ibérico Nogueira, our next stop, is an example of the perfect integration of vineyards, orchards and vegetable gardens, in a charming, gently sloped terrain. The granite house, typical of the region, was built in the early 19thcentury and is proud of its agricultural tradition.
Our final stop is the imposing Casa das Fidalgas, with its grand baroque fountain and its unique sense of space, where the “formal” gardens delimited by boxwood, seem to merge, freely, with the surrounding nature. Surprises unfold as we cross the gardens from the upper levels, with its camellias and magnolias, to the rose pergola, the orchards and vegetable gardens below. An impressive promenade is bordered by oak trees, ash trees, chestnut trees, cedars and olive trees. A lovely cherry tree orchard and of course, the vineyards, are equally unforgettable.