13 Abandoned Places in Portugal That Will Shock You

Written By Becky Gillespie

Did you know that Portugal is home to many fascinating abandoned places? From dilapidated palaces to convents and even a deserted water park, these places represent a Portugal of times gone by. Let’s explore 13 of these intriguing locations and, as you will see, it may not be the end for some of these properties!

Burnay Palace

Burnay Palace, built in the 18th century, is a splendid example of neo-Manueline architecture between Alcântara and Belém in Lisbon. Once a grand mansion and later used by a local university, it now stands abandoned. The palace’s ornate decorations and elegant rooms have fallen into disrepair including a multi-level entrance that has to be seen to be believed!

Burnay Palace
Burnay Palace, João Carvalho, Wikimedia Commons

Greenhouses with broken windows and ponds filled with algae can be seen along with graffiti covering the walls as nature slowly reclaims the structure. The faded beauty of the palace still shines through its decaying state. This opulent palace may get a happy ending as the Portuguese government announced plans for a €26 million euro investment in January 2024 to recover the palace and use it for an expansion of the Museum of Ancient Art.

Panorâmico de Monsanto

Panorâmico de Monsanto was a stunning restaurant in Lisbon that offered beautiful views of the Lisbon skyline. Built in the 1960s, it now lies in ruins, forgotten by time. Despite its current state, the incredible graffiti, open windows, and intriguing location in the middle of Monsanto Park make for an intriguing stop for urban explorers and photographers. As of 2022, it is no longer possible to access the site without jumping the fence and risking arrest. Plans are said to be in the works to eventually redevelop the site, although the timeline is undetermined. If Lisbon residents are lucky, it will be another place with incredible views.

Belvedere Panorâmico de Monsanto, Dusan Smolnikar, Flickr

Quinta das Águias

Quinta das Águias, or Manor of Eagles, is another abandoned palace quite close to the Burnay Palace between Lisbon’s Alcântara and Belém neighborhoods. The 18th-century mansion features crumbling architecture now in a serious state of disrepair. A Portuguese statesman and diplomat, Dom Diogo de Mendonça Corte-Real first purchased the home in 1731 and it remained in the family until 1841.

In 1890, the fourth owner of Quinta das Águias, Dr. Fausto Lopo Patrick de Carvalho, made major renovations to the property and the Carvalho Family remained in charge until the property fell into the hands of the bank. Why the bank ended up with the property is anyone’s guess, but we would venture to say bankruptcy or family disputes regarding the sale. At the time of this writing, Quinta das Águias continues to decay, growing further away from its glorious past as a host for grand balls and galas, some attended by Portuguese royalty.

Quinta das Águias
Quinta das Águias, João Carvalho, Wikimedia Commons

The Pavilions in Parque Dom Carlos I, Caldas Da Rainha

Parque Dom Carlos I in Caldas da Rainha welcomes visitors from around the country with its charming museums and park-side cafes. Across from its beautiful lake, you will notice huge, imposing buildings that some have likened to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. These buildings were part of an ambitious project by Rodrigo Maria Berquó, an engineer and architect from the Azores who received approval for a new thermal hospital that would include seven pavilions in 1892. Construction began one year later, but Berquó died from a heart attack in 1896 before the work could be finished.  

In the end, Berquó’s dream of making Caldas da Rainha into a European spa resort was never realized, but the pavilions that were completed were later used as military barracks, a school, a tourism post, and a newsroom. Its last tenant moved out in 2005, leaving the pavilions completely abandoned. Despite damage sustained by fire in September 2023, there is hope for the remaining pavilions, as the government recently announced that work will begin soon on transforming the pavilions into the five-star Montebelo Bordalo Caldas da Rainha Hotel through investment from the Revive Programme and 15 million euros from the Visabeira Group.  

Parque Dom Carlos I, Caldas da Rainha, Photo by Toms Rits, Unsplash

Castelo da Dona Chica

Castelo da Dona Chica located in Palmeira, Braga was designed by Swiss architect Ernesto Korrodi. Construction began in 1915, ordered by João Rego to fulfill the dream of his new bride, Francisca Peixoto de Sousa, also known as Dona Chica. Born in São Paulo, Brazil, she inherited a vast fortune from her father. Moving to Portugal in 1913 with her husband, João Rego, they planned to build a luxurious palace for hosting grand parties, surrounded by tropical trees from Brazil.

Castelo da Dona Chica
Castelo da Dona Chica, avenidacentral, Flickr

However, their dream was never realized. Francisca divorced her husband four years later and moved to Porto, leaving the incomplete palace behind. Some believed that the house was cursed and that no one would ever live there. Legend had it that those who dared to enter would run away when they saw white appear at the top of the staircase. Over the decades, the property changed owners many times and was classified as a Property of Public Interest in 1985. Acquired by the Parish Council of Palmeira in 1990, it was leased to IPALTUR, which attempted to convert it into a leisure area. Despite several efforts, the palace remained abandoned until it was bought by Magalhães & Rocchio in 2019, who plan to transform it into a five-star luxury hotel.

But the question remains – will it still be haunted?

Tapada das Necessidades

Tapada das Necessidades near the Estrela neighborhood of Lisbon is actually not abandoned at all, but it has definitely seen better days. Formerly the grounds of a royal palace, Tapada das Necessidades is open to the public from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm every day, but several corners of the park have suffered the ravages of time and are in need of refurbishment. The impressive greenhouse, for example, is missing several windows, and several buildings throughout the park have been completely abandoned altogether. Despite this, the park’s charm remains, and visitors can find a flock of geese, ducks, peacocks, and several cats roaming the park along with a generous slope perfect for picnics. If you’re looking for a peaceful place in the city, Tapada das Necessidades is a great choice.

Tapada das Necessidades
Tapada das Necessidades, Amelia Monteiro, Flickr

Monte Palace

Monte Palace was a luxury, five-star hotel in São Miguel, Azores overlooking the incredible Sete Cidades. While this may sound unbelievable, it was only open for 18 months before it closed and has been abandoned since 1990. Most shocking of all, it received the award for “Best Hotel in Portugal” the same week that it closed its doors forever. Now, the only thing that remains of this imposing structure is the concrete and graffiti. So, what happened?

Even when the hotel opened in 1989, it needed additional investors after many years of delay and mounting debts. When the Monte Palace opened, the Azores was not a popular tourist destination. It was also in an isolated place, and there was not much to do in the area. The stunning view of Sete Cidades, which the Monte Palace was known for, also remained clouded over most of the time.

Monte Palace
Monte Palace, KS_aus_F, Flickr

After the hotel closed, a security guard watched over the place for 20 years to keep vandalism in check. When the guard stopped being paid in 2011 and abandoned his post, locals started stealing everything including the bathtubs and even the elevator! The government later removed the windows to prevent people from hurting themselves. In 2017, a group of Chinese investors purchased the property with plans to reopen, but no progress or restoration work has been made.

Beja Aquatica

Beja Aquatica opened in 1989 about 5 km outside the town of Beja in the Alentejo. Owned by a builder from the Algarve, the waterpark was only open for three short years before closing down in 1992. The waterpark ultimately could not attract enough visitors to overcome its debts. Plans were in the works to add hotels to draw more people, but construction never started.

Although the waterpark looks like it wouldn’t take so much to get it up and running again, the truth is that the type of water circuit renovation required is no longer allowed. The costs to repair the park would also exceed its value. And so time ticks on, and nature continues to take over the waterslides.

The Monastery of Santa Maria de Seiça, Figueira da Foz

The Monastery of Santa Maria de Seiça, near Figueira da Foz, originally dates back to 1162, though its current version was constructed in 1672. The monastery once functioned as a center of philosophical studies. After the extinction of religious orders throughout the country in 1834, the monks abandoned the monastery and the property was vandalized and changed hands multiple times. In 1911, the property served as an industrial unit for rice peeling.

Convento de Seiça
Convento de Seiça, Vítor Ribeiro, Flickr

The property became a classified as a Property of Public Interest in 2002. Then, in 2004, the municipality of Figueira da Foz obtained the deed for the property. In an unexpected twist, rehabilitation work on the property began in 2024. Let’s wait and see what new life awaits for this historic place!  

Aqueduct de los Pegões, Tomar

The amazing Aqueduct de los Pegões in Tomar, completed in 1619, supplied water to the Mata dos Sete Montes and the Convent of Christ. Designed by Italian architect and engineer Filipe Terzi under the direction of King Filipe II, the 7-km structure has an astounding 180 arches stretching across the Pegões Valley. It became a Classified National Monument in 1920.

Aqueduct de los Pegões
Aqueduct de los Pegões, Alvesgaspar, Wikimedia Commons

São Francisco do Monte Convent, Viana do Castelo

The São Francisco do Monte Convent, left to ruin in the forests near Viana do Castelo, is a true relic of the past. Founded in the 14th century as one of the first three convents of the Order of Friars Minor in Portugal, it was abandoned in the 19th century. In 2001, it was sold to the Polytechnic Institute of Viana do Castelo. The property remains in ruins to this day.  

Convento de S. Francisco do Monte
Convento de S. Francisco do Monte, Das grote, Wikimedia Commons

The Garbage King’s Palace, Coina

The Garbage King’s Palace in Coina, Portugal, was built by Manuel Júnior, a prosperous businessman known for his garbage collection enterprise. In 1907, he secured exclusive rights to collect waste in Lisbon, amassing a significant fortune along the way. Although Manuel never handled the garbage himself, he efficiently managed the waste in part by feeding pigs and fertilizing his lands. He began constructing the mansion in 1910, with a tower designed to overlook his expansive properties. However, the construction was never completed.

Palácio do Rei do Lixo
Palácio do Rei do Lixo, Inácio Alves, Flickr

Following Manuel Júnior’s death, the palace remained unfinished, although the surrounding farmland thrived. In the 1970s, a developer bought the estate intending to convert it into a hotel. Unfortunately, a devastating fire in 1988 gutted the building’s interior, and the project was abandoned. The property changed hands multiple times, with various owners using the land for farming and other purposes. Today, the dilapidated tower is owned by Xavier de Lima’s company, with no plans for restoration.

Chalet of the Countess of Edla, Sintra

For our final location, we wanted to showcase a property that has now been fully restored, despite being abandoned for 95 years. The Chalet of the Countess of Edla is a romantic cottage built between 1864-69 by King Ferdinand II and his second wife, the Countess of Edla, within the Park of Pena in Sintra. Constructed as a personal retreat, this cottage is an exquisite example of romantic architecture with influences from Northern European and American mountain cottages. Its painted exterior was made to look like wood planks and also includes the extensive use of cork. The interior contains painted architectural surfaces with colored patterns and geometric designs.

After Ferdinand’s death in 1885, Elise sold the estate to the state but retained the right to use the chalet until 1904. After the subsequent end of the monarchy in 1910, the chalet was neglected and eventually abandoned altogether. It wasn’t until 1999, when the chalet was destroyed by fire that several national and international partners stepped in to meticulously rebuild the chalet and restore it to its former glory. Today, the Chalet is open to the public and receives visitors from around the world.

Countess of Edla Chalet
Countess of Edla Chalet, Ricardo Gonçalves, Flickr
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