ARTE TV report on the gardens of Casa de Mateus (in French)
The earliest parts of the gardens are traditionally attributed to Diogo Álvares Botelho Mourão, Archdeacon of Covilhã and brother of the 3rd Morgado, who built the House. These are situated to the east and consist of a staircase in the central axis of the building and the adjacent trellises. The plans in an inventory made at the end of the 18th century refer to an exit into the gardens to the east, and to the south an area under planting and the Farm.
The 3rd Count of Vila Real, at the time of improvements to the House, diverted the public road which crossed the Farm from north to south in front of the main façade, and in 1870 planted the cedars that today shade the building and the lake. He was also responsible for planting the camellias and palm trees in the gardens that he laid out to the east of the House and which still today form the only intimate and romantic touch in the geometrical layout of the upper level.
In the 1930s, the Countess of Mangualde commissioned the parterre to the east of the house, to a design by Gomes de Amorim. Her son, the founder of the Foudation, as part of the major works that he carried out, made significant changes to the whole of exterior space surrounding the building.
He planted the tunnel of cedars that covers the east staircase which emphasises the axis of the longitudinal perspective that characterises the entire complex, constructed the three tanks on its north side designed by António Lino, redesigned the parterre on the lower level, one of which is to a design by Paulo Bensliman, and reorganised the geometrical design of hedges and arches to the south of the House.
In the 1950s and 1960s, D. Francisco de Sousa Botelho de Albuquerque completely altered the entire area surrounding the main façade of the House to a consistent design by Gonçalo Ribeiro Teles. He created a new entrance, a highly successful design combining masonry and planting, that provides an enchanting approach to the House with its surprising vistas along its central perspective.
The Lake, a mirror of water built in the 1950s, forms an extension to the architectural complex in which the main façade is perfectly reflected, and which, surrounded as it is by dense planting of chestnut trees and oaks planted in the 1970s, places the House’s reflection in a wooded setting.
The sculpture by João Cutileiro, which has ‘slept’ in the Lake since 1981, blends with the reflection of the House.