It is the end of October. This year, weather offered a little truce to those who wanted to see Lisboa. We had sunny days up until a few weeks ago, but now, even if it arrived a bit late, autumn brought all of its traces. There are strings of leaves losing their colours by the sidewalk, from where a few manage to escape when the wind, which never stops, blows harder. The trees tremble from their trunk to their crowns, sibilating. It's cold, people walking by hide in coats and skarfs. But despite that, the sun shines strong, and gives some confort when the wind isn't looking.
I just arrived at Santo Amaro, in the beautiful district of Oeiras. The train station's elongated platform atop the hill allows me to look over the rooftops and waving vegetation of downtown. The stroll of the day leads me on the opposite direction though, so I take the staircase over the tracks, where young scouts are walking in line. There is a garden nearby I want to check out, in the street that follows along the train tracks. Before it are rows of flowery houses, a cosy neighbourhood. Soon it gives way to a big stone wall, and a fence. Plants climb over them, growing out of the enclosure, tufts rising up in the air and undulating softly.
In between the metal bars, across the road, a small forest in shade appears - Jardim da Quinta dos Sete Castelos. I enter the garden, and start wandering about. There is a variety of shrubs, flowers, grass lawns and big, lush pines and palmtrees, growing high and covering the sky. They have been laid out in a few segments, apparently at leisure because of the natural growth. Over the paths of gravel branching off in regular or random directions, birds sing over the sound of leaves in the wind. A father and a son walk by and play, and another identical pair shows up soon afterwards. At the center of the park are the remains of a building, a mansion of an older time. It seems almost consumed by the growing plants, in particular the ivy that climb all over its facades.
The wind decides to disturb the tranquility that envelops the place. At the mercy of a strong gust, the entire forest reverberates in a vibranting burst. I wrap myself up in my jacket and move on, passing beyond the small palace to reach a pleasant patio with a restaurant, and an area of dense reeds, very tall, so much so that the pathway that crosses it seems more like a labyrinth. Opposite my way in, the park's exit gates are a few meters away, under the metal frame of a paculiar old windmill surrounded by flower-beds of bright blue and pink blossoms.
The streets are cosy, with pretty houses and plenty of green. The urban silhouette against the sky shows rooftops growing out of plentyful foliage. There isn't a lot of movement around here at the moment. Someone walks their dog, someone else cleans their small lawn. But the persistent wind doesn't allow for much. It moves around, waiting for a bit, swinging the electric cables hung over my head, then suddenly launches itself in between the housing, lifting up fallen leaves and seeds, and all the vegetation from vases, balconies and private gardens stirs as one, once again creating a loud breath that covers everything for an instant. The calmness then returns, but never for long.
I wander about, noticing how the streets change, farther from the garden. There are avenues of trees, and the squares widen up. The fresh, green scenery becomes even more present, and placed around the clusters of lush trees are imposing mansions of bright, joyful colours. Apartments start showing up aswell. There are more people outside, unbothered by the windy cold. Hoping to find some warmth, I reach a crossroads where the sunlight manages to pass through the roofs and treetops and reaches the sidewalk. The road goes down on a slope, passing by a range of ground floor stores, cafes and pastry shops, and ending under the ornament lights, hanging from the cables connecting each side of the housing facades.
Feeling warmed-up already, I follow it to get to the square below and find a way to a couple of other fantastic gardens in Santo Amaro de Oeiras - including the famous Marquês de Pombal palace gardens. The hike continues on a new story coming soon!
Like this story?
Get more! Subscribe to our monthly inspiration newsletter.