Buçaco Forest is a magical place - a 16th century monastic retreat isolated from the rest of the world.
The Serra do Buçaco mountain range is a botanical garden, containing around 700 native and exotic species of plants. It is protected by a 17th century papal decree that threatens to ex-communicate anyone who damages it. Of note among the many species are the Caucasus spruce, the Buçaco cedar and the Californian redwood (a huge tree that can reach up to 100 metres in height).
In the 16th century, the Vicar-General of the Barefoot Carmelites decided that this location would be the ideal place to build a monastery where the monks could dedicate themselves to a contemplative life in contact with nature. Thus, a modest convent was built as well as a number of penitential hermitages and chapels scattered throughout the forest, which, together with the numerous lakes and crosses, lend this place a magical quality.
From the Cruz Alta vista point, you’ll see the seductive beauty of the mountain range, in which certain places, such as Vale dos Fetos and Fonte Fria, stand out.
The peace of the forest was disturbed in 1810 when the Portuguese and British fought the French in the Battle of Buçaco.
Part of the convent was incorporated into a palace in the 19th century and the only parts of the original building that remain are the cloisters, the chapel and some cells. The palace is built in the Neo-Manueline style, and has now been converted into the Bussaco Palace Hotel.