Along the Campo Alegre axis of the city of Porto, we can find many manners of gardens, green areas and parks. There is one that stands out in its commitment to scientific and botanical collection, showcase, and education. That one is the Botanical Garden of Porto.
Entering the property which used to be known as the Campo Alegre farm, one will be met with a crimson-painted mansion. This mansion once belonged to the Andersen family, the most well known members of which is the late Sophia de Mello Breyner Andersen, a prolific poet and children’s novelist, responsible for a number of children’s classics which are to this day a very popular choice among children, teachers and parents alike. Many of the themes, settings and characters of the books are inspired by the gardens surrounding this 19th century mansion. Today, the gardens themselves also take inspiration, as they are named after characters and themes in her stories. One example of such is the garden with rather large trees, such as Lebanese Cedars, and a New Zealander Auracaria, which is named the Garden of the Dwarves, after the dwarves in Sophia’s book “The Forest” (A Floresta).
Among other remarkable specimens that can be found in the garden include a variety of exotic trees, a small bunch of bamboo trees, extremely large cacti in the aptly named “Succulent Garden”, as well as several varieties of camelias. Beyond the cozy but typical romantic rose and herb gardens lined in tall hedges, lies the more heavily forested area of the Botanical Garden; in it you can find somewhat overgrown paths that will lead you to a rather hidden away part of the park; a marvelous pond teeming with dragonflies hopping around the surrounding trees, the water, and the flowering water lilies. Underneath them you can spot kois gracing through the water. It is a scene that will leave you lingering in that area for quite a while, for it is an absolutely delightful place to do so.
The gardens are centred by the mansion. The property was owned by the grandparents of Sophia de Mello Breyner, and it underwent a recent renovation. Fully painted in crimson outside, and white inside, it houses natural history exhibitions as well as other periodical exhibitions, generally pertaining to biology. Bus lines that pass in front of the Botanical Garden include STCP’s 200, 203, 207 and 503.
If you are a botanical enthusiast, Porto has got you most definitely covered, and you can visit it any day of the week from 9AM to 7PM. Even in hot days, the shade of the trees and the coolness of the ponds will keep you at a good temperature in the scorching summer!
If you want to get to know the Botanical Garden and other secret spots with a true local give us a call!