Stone & Nature  
     

From the Latin "Boscus Sacrum" or "Bosci Sacrum" (meaning sacred wood) was born the word "Bussaco" or "Buçaco".

"Serra do Bussaco" or “Bussaco mountain chain”, was in ancient times, not the name of the hill, but a description sating "the hill where the sacred wood is". The original name of the mountain chain was "Alcoba" and it had its origin on the Arab meaning of "place to rest or place to sleep" maybe because is half way between Lisbon and Oporto and it was a good place to rest in the time of the Arabs – who knows ?!

Nevertheless, "Serra da Alcoba" was a much larger set of mountains that include also Caramulo and that extended from the River Mondego to the River Vouga, as a natural wall, dividing the interior a the seaside land of the Beiras.

After the battle of Bussaco in 1810, the name of the mountain as definitively changed to "Serra do Buçaco" and the name "Alcoba" abandoned.

 
     
 
With its first stone set in 1620 by the religious order of the Carmelitas Descalços (Barefoot Carmelites), the architectural complex of the monastery, has always been a place for rest and contemplation.
 

After the extinction of the religious orders and the death of the last monk in 1830-40, the buildings were then used as barracks as many other monasteries in Portugal. Later, new buildings started to be developed, in order to give shelter to the people that were attracted by the majestic woods.

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In 1888, by influence of Emidio Navarro and by the pen of the Italian architect Luigi Manini, part of the complex was destroyed to give place to the then called Grande Hotel do Bussaco – The last palace to be built by the Portuguese monarchy.

     

With the conclusion of the main building, the project continued with several other changes, namely in the Casa dos Cedros, according to the drawings of the architect Nicola Bigaglia.

 

     
 

The majestic position over the horizon was for sure, a fact that influenced the progress of the project, even in times of great instability, like those of the implantation of the Republic.

     

The West complex was the last to be developed. Agricultural fields and fruit trees were kept during many years, along with some of the buildings that were developed during the XIX century.

The final phase of the complex (projected by the Portuguese architect Norte Júnior in 1905) was the Royal Annexe, also known as Casa dos Brasões. Norte Júnior would be later invited to return to this complex in order to refurbish the so called Casa das Pedrinhas.

 
     
  In the 80’s decade of the XX century, the buildings suffered severe refurbishing by the hand of the Portuguese architect José Paulo Santos, in order to adapt the famous building to the modern demands of excellence hotels. This complex is, without any doubt, one of the precious gems of the architecture in Portugal.