We very nearly didn’t go here because even though it had rave reviews, Jon took one look at the site via google results and thought “why would I want to just see this building and there isn’t much to see in the local village either.” On the second day of Faro we knew we were to spend our third day in Portimao and our fourth day in Lagos but couldn’t really think of anything to do in the present moment. After doing a bit of shopping in Faro for his mum’s birthday present we decided to venture to the Pink Palace in Estoi as something to do and to pass the time. It did not disappoint and in fact surprised us. It is actually a very interesting place to visit and is now one of my top attractions I recommend you see when traveling. The photos on the internet do not do it justice, it’s a really unusual palace now turned hotel and if you are a lover of that Greco-roman mythology and style, then you’ll fall in love with this place because it is swimming in statues of mermaids, goddess depictions and mosaics, it even houses a shrine dedicated to Venus (goddess of love) and Diana (goddess of the moon and hunting). The hotel has one grand room and main garden open to the public, the rest of it’s quarters are private unless you want to pay a fee to stay there.
We went to the Pink Palace just before sunset, arriving at the main entrance at about 3pm, as tourists we could just walk straight through the main reception, the staff there are pleasant and very helpful. The pink palace was built by an Algarvian Aristocrat in 1840, in Esto which is a small village east of Faro. It takes about 15 minutes by taxi to get here and a little longer by local bus. For ages this beautiful building seemed destined to fall to ruin however in 2009 it was restored to its former glory as a luxury, historical hotel. It is extremely popular for weddings and honeymoons.
I’m not usually a fan of the colour pink however it brings out that romantic, renaissance feeling with this elegant building. It feels like the creator was in touch with their feminine and even spiritual side and perhaps like many world heritage buildings it was built as a dedication to a woman he loves? The soft pink hues, the sensual statues, the curves of building, feels like it was made with love.
The palace was begun in the Rococo style, funded by gold from Brazil – then part of Portugal’s empire. Some of the other rooms were added later, and have a little less elegance (but not a lot less!). During the 18th century it was the summer showpiece palace for the Royal Family, and so was built to impress. Unlike Versailles, it has a lot of the original furniture in suit.
The palace is not well known, but it is a gem. We were here during the off season in December so it was wonderfully deserted with the exception of a few business men. It is free to enter the grounds open to the public and there is also a bar and restaurant if you fancied splashing your cash on lunch and a light beverage.
My favorite part of this place was the secret shrine, hidden slightly underneath the hotel. You have to walk through the main garden, down some steps and walk a little bit down a large drive-way flanked by trees only to turn back to face the hotel to see the shrine being enveloped by the stairs you’ve walked down. It wasn’t something mentioned when we did research on the internet so it was a wonderful to discover this gem as I am really fascinated by the gods and goddesses of ancient mythology. Upon entering you see a water fountain and water pouring out of Pan’s mouth. It feels like a womb space, surrounded by cave-like rock formations, hand painted tiles and statues of Diana and Venus on either side of you. It felt like I had gone back in time and that I had stumbled upon a very mystical place. I dropped a penny in the fountain and made a wish to the universe.
Another favourite part of the pink palace was the little, naughty summer cottage in the far right of the garden. It’s a very bright and airy space possibly used to shade yourself from the midday heat with your love. The paintings on the walls are erotic with humans embracing animals, fauns looking up ladies dresses and couples kissing. Anybody who knows me, knows I adore researching erotica through out history, it was my main theme at university and I love classy, erotic art and photography. It was a lovely little shock to finish the exploration of the Pousada Palacio.
Pousada Palacio is a place of beauty and prestige. It was particularly magnificent during sunset because the orange rays seems to make the pink hues glow with a loving radiance. This palace was definitely a devotion to love and sensuality and it makes sense if it was inspired by Venus (the goddess of love) and also to the wild sensuality of the sea, and with mermaids and fish painted everywhere. I’d visit here again, it took my breath away, I’d get married here!
If you missed my Faro write up, click here.
If you wish to read about other travel destinations, click on the links below.
Morocco for 16 days
Croatia/Montenegro for 10 days
Hungary/Vienna for 5 days
Nepal for 21 days
The UK wherever whenever day trips.