Mafra Palace and Bucelas Arinto half day
In this wine tourism tour around Lisbon, with wine tasting and winery visit, we´ll go inside Mafra Palace and Convent (1) (38 kms north of Lisbon), emblematic work of the Portuguese Baroque, built by absolutist King John V in 1713. It´s considered one of Portugal Seven Wonders. Then, we visit the José Franco Typical Village (2), recreation of an old village, work of great ethnographic value. Finally, we visit a charming farm were it´s produced the famous Bucelas dry white wine (3), made from the Arinto variety, exported to the court of England since the XVI th century. Besides walk around the vineyard while enjoying a magnificent landscape, we go to the modern winery. Then learn about the manufacturing process and taste various wines (4) with Portuguese delicacies.
1. At Mafra we visite: the Basilica, the only in the world with six pipe organs and two historical carillons of 98 bells, the most important collection of Italian Baroque sculpture outside Italy; several halls and rooms of the Palace, including the rooms of the king and queen, a painting collection of great Italian and Portuguese masters; the Hospital of the convent, with its pharmacy and surgical instruments of the time; and the Library, with 36 000 ancient books from centuries XV-XIX, some of them rares. Designed by German architect Ludwig Francis (Ludovice), the entire building is a luxury, only possible with the gold from Brazil. Built between 1717 and 1730, 52 000 men worked there, in only one year, and were applied materials from the region and exotic woods from Brazil. The story of its construction inspired the Portuguese writer and Nobel Prize for Literature José Saramago when he wrote "Baltasar and Blimunda”. The palace was stripped of its values in 1807, when the royal family left for Brazil due to the French invasion, carrying the finest furnishings and artwork. It was later occupied by the French and British troops during the Peninsular War. The other Portuguese kings use it as an hunting lodge. In turn, after the dissolution of the religious orders in 1834, the Convent was delivered to the Army and is now a military school.
2. José Franco Typical Village was built in 1945, in the town of Sobreiro, around Mafra. It´s an artistic creation of José Franco, master sculptor and potter. The intent of this popular artist was recreate an old village-sized, like a living museum, where to show the typical occupations of the countryside. In this place we can see how was the house of the farmer, the cellar, the chapel, the barber shop, the grocery store, the school, and the mill, etc. In the same space there is also a miniature replica of a village, as well as the famous sculptures in clay of master Franco. A visit that delights children but also adults.
3. We finished at Quinta da Murta, in Bucelas (25 kms north of Lisbon), a demarcated region by law since 1911, known for producing the most famous dry white wine from Portugal: the Bucelas Arinto. Also known as "charneco" and "Lisbon Hock". This is a wine classified as VQPRD (Quality Wine Produced in a Demarcated Region). It was cultivated by the Romans for more than 2000 years and was very popular at the English court of Elizabeth I, having been mentioned in Shakespeare's work "Henry VI" (1554). It was later taken to the English court by the Duke of Wellington, in the XIXth century, during the Napoleonic invasions in Portugal. The Prince Regent George III loved this wine, considering until it had medicinal powers. It was also mandatory presence in the cellar of US President Thomas Jefersson in 1800.
4. After visiting the charming vineyard and the winery, we will taste some wines, with traditional Portuguese sausages. In addition to the classic white wine, Quinta da Murta produces white and red sparkling wines. As for the terroir, the vineyard is planted in a valley, 250 meters high, with good sun exposure all year. The soil is limestone and rich in marine fossils, which contributes to the fresh and mineral taste of this wine. The Bucelas Arinto has overall citrus color, intense but discreet flavor of citrus, apple and tropical fruits with elegant and persistent texture. Preferably should be drink while young.