Palace of EstóiThe palace is a 19th century creation. The original owner José Moreira Pereira and Carvalhal Vasconcelos (1756-1823), Count of Carvalhal died before it was finished, but a local man José Francisco da Silva took over the project and it was finally completed in 1909.

José Francisco da Silva was the son of a farmer, and lived in Beja for much of his adult life where he was a pharmacist and grain dealer. He became a wealthy landowner and did much for the local population, but it was his dedication to developing the Palácio de Estoi for which he became the Viscount of Estoi. The palace remained in his family until the late 1980s. The palace would appear to have fallen into disrepair in the 1990s but by the 21st century it was being renovated and today is a stunning ‘Pousada‘.

Many of the older guidebooks will refer to the gardens as these have always been open to the public; the upper terrace and the tea pavilions have been fully renovated but the lower gardens still need much work. Even in Winter these gardens are worth visiting as the tiles, statues, busts and grotto are wonderful, and you can easily spend an hour just looking at these. The main villa has been returned to its former glory and I wasn’t surprised to read that the plaster ceilings are considered some of the finest in the Algarve.

It is a lovely place for a light lunch or afternoon tea, and I’ve heard that the spa is excellent. If you have time on your hands there is also the fascinating Roman ruins of Milreu on the other side of the village.