I visited the Botanical Garden of Ajuda – the oldest botanical garden of Portugal – in February 2015. Designed by Italian botanist Domingos Vandelli in 1768 as part of National Palace of Ajuda and situated on a hill close to the Palácio da Ajuda, it occupies some 3,5 hectares.
The garden is divided into two terraces and is decorated with monuments and mystical figures. “The lower terrace has an Italianesque layout with a geometric pattern of paths and long hedges of boxwood arranged around flower beds. Plenty of tall trees provide some welcome shade. At the center of the lower level stands a monumental fountain, the Fonte das Quarenta Bicas (Fountain of the Forty Spouts).” ¹ Regrettably, the fountain was not in use during my visit and all greenhouses were inexplicably closed!
The renowned peacocks that roam freely around the gardens had disappeared. They were probably vacationing in warmer climates. A wise decision for in Lisbon we had 10ºC!
I saw some extraordinary flora, especially the four hundred year old dragon tree (Dracaena) . Also spectacular: Sophora japonica (Styphnolobium japonicum, the Pagoda Tree); Phytolacca dioica or Ombú; Jacaranda mimosifolia.
I spent several hours in perfect communion with the creatures of the garden. For a very short period I saw a couple of visitors. Apart from that, I had this small paradise just for myself! I decided that I have to return in spring.
Get to the Ajuda Botanical Garden by riding Lisbon’s metro and buses for free with the Lisboa Card.