Quinta das Lágrimas: Portugal’s Romeo and Juliet Hotel
Quinta das Lágrimas —“Estate of Tears”—owes its name to a tragic love story and a Fountain of Tears that marks the spot where Inês de Castro was slain. Her blood, it is said, marks the stones under the water of the fountain, the Fonte Das Lagrimas, in the garden of the Quinta das Lágrimas Hotel. The hotel was once a palace for royalty, a place that welcomed Kings and Emperors. Today, as a member of The Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the Quinta das Lágrimas is known for its fine restaurant, Arcadas, widely considered one of the best in Portugal as well as for its beautiful gardens and well-appointed rooms.
A few centuries before Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the Portuguese Royal family generated a legendary tale of forbidden romance and tragedy. Young Prince Pedro, son of King Alfonso IV, fell in love with a lady-in-waiting, Inês de Castro. Pedro, however, was married, and the love affair with Inês was no secret, although they were said to secretly rendezvous in the garden. One day Pedro’s father, who did not condone his son’s love for Inês, sent a trio of assassins to kill Inês. Pedro was incensed. Later, he tracked down the killers and brutally murdered them. Upon becoming King after his father, it was said that Pedro exhumed her body and crowned Inês as his queen. Today their crypts are located across from one another where it is said they can look upon each for all eternity. The fountain of tears in the hotel’s garden marks the place where Inês’s blood stained the rocks under the the fountain.
The garden, featuring dozens of trees representing a wide variety of species, is lush, tropical and a big draw for tourists as well as guests of the hotel. It covers twelve hectares and where rare trees from all over the world are on display, including camphor trees, maples, palm trees, araucarias, and a couple of sequoias planted by the Duke of Wellington. It is also a sanctuary for several species of exotic birds. While strolling through the garden, visiting the famous Fount of Tears and taking in the sights and sounds of the lush landscape, we ascended to the top portion of the garden to find a view of the city of Coimbra, Portugal’s third largest city, just across the Mondego River.
Quinta das Lágrimas has belonged to the same family since 1730. Legend has it that Inês’s ghost still roams the Quinta, eternally searching for Pedro. Their romance has survived through the centuries in the works of writers such as Victor Hugo, Voltaire and the poet Ezra Pound. We found the memory of the two lovers constantly revived throughout our experience at Quinta. Our spa treatment was held in the Pedro and Inês room for couples. Our dinner at the Arcadas restaurant was the Pedro and Inês menu based on family recipes. And the Quinta’s house bottle of wine from Dao is a red named Pedro & Inês. Throughout the corridors are framed prints of paintings, numerous drawings and glass cases of books, fiction and non-fiction, re-telling the story. On many hotel walls and in the corridors are painted a pair of red hearts, one with a black crown, showing Pedro’s broken heart with a tear over Inês’s.
The hotel offers three different room locations and styles: the historic Palace rooms along with the contemporary Spa and Garden guest rooms. The Palace rooms, which once accommodated the Duke of Wellington and King Miguel of Portugal, exude the romantic charm and legendary feel of what it was like to live in a historic setting. The modern spa rooms boast stunning views of Quinta´s trees and historic city of Coimbra. With direct access to the serene botanical garden, the contemporary garden rooms overlook the setting for the tragic love affair of Pedro and Inês.
The library, the spa with its majestic indoor pool and the Quinta’s excellent restaurants mark this classically inspired hotel with a contemporary elegance.
Our deluxe two-room suite consisted of a living room with sofa, coffee table, sofa chair and television. Double glass doors opened to a lovely view overlooking the well manicured, landscaped modern garden area near the spa corridor. Blue and white painted tiles were used extensively in the large tub and shower in the bathroom adjoining our master bedroom.
Coimbra, the ancient capital of Portugal, is within walking distance of the hotel, just across the Mondego River on the right bank. Located halfway between Lisbon and Porto, Coimbra is an essential site for all those in search of the “real” Portugal. After unpacking our suitcases, we set off for a walk to see the city that stood for over a thousand years of history, containing rich artistic treasures, and housing one of the world’s oldest universities. The third largest city of Portugal is also a city of poets and scholars as well as students, who happened to be finishing (and celebrating the end of) their school year as we arrived. Here too one finds Fado, that nostalgic musical form so special and unique to the heart of Portugal. Fado (“destiny” or “fate”) tends to be characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics of pure feeling. There are two styles, one from Lisbon and one from Coimbra, that latter closely linked to the university and exclusively sung by men.
The ruins of Conimbriga, the largest Roman settlement on Lusitanian territory, are located just 15 kilometers from Coimbra and well-worth a visit. It is Portugal’s most important historic site. Here archaeologists have discovered spectacular mosaics, thermal baths, a forum and huge houses covering hundreds of square feet. The Germanic barbarian Suevi tribe invaded the township in AD 468 putting an end to Roman rule
Quinta das Lágrimas is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, an association of beautiful and charming hospitality establishments also featuring some of the finest restaurants in the world. Quinta is one of several Thema Hotels and Resorts found in Lisbon, Coimbra and Porto. (See our reviews of the Hotel da Estrela and Cantina da Estrela in Lisbon and the Infante Sagres Palace and Book Restaurant in Porto.) Today Quinta it is still considered as the primary destination resort in the region of Coimbra, as local signage on major roads points the way to this lovely resort and hotel complex. A nine-hole golf course, The Academia de Golf, and driving range are adjacent to the grounds. Bamboo Garden Spa offers a series of treatments aimed at promoting relaxation and well-being for mind and body. Breakfast is served from 7:30-11:00 and Lunch is available from 12:30-2:30 pm. For all these reasons and more, Quinta das Lágrimas is a must-see visit for your holiday in Portugal.
Quinta das Lágrimas
Rua Antonio Augusto Gonçalves
Santa Clara, 3041-901 Coimbra, Portugal
Tel. +351 239 802 380
Fax. +351 239 441 695