Parque Dom Carlos I, Caldas da Rainha

Parque Dom Carlos I is the heart of the charming city of Caldas Da Rainha. Named after a Portuguese king, this romantic park charms visitors with its tree-covered lanes, dotted with sculptures. Enjoy the swans on the lake or enjoy a coffee at one of several cafes with outdoor seating. You can also visit one of the museums, play tennis, or hire a rowboat.

History

Parque Dom Carlos I had humble beginnings as a collection of vineyards and olive groves. It was originally designed to provide an oasis for patients from the nearby Hospital Termal Rainha D. Leonor. Doctors believed that taking leisurely strolls through nature would enhance the patients’ recovery.

In 1889, architect Rodrigo Maria Berquó reinvented the space into a romantic garden, catering to the bourgeoisie drawn by the new railway. The park, complete with an artificial lake, charming pathways, a music bandstand, and police surveillance, began to allure visitors nationwide. The 1950 revamp further expanded its attractions, incorporating the José Malhoa Museum and a restaurant.

The park also has large buildings designed at the end of the 19th century by Rodrigo Berquó to be the new D. Carlos I Hospital. The project envisaged the construction of seven pavilions, intended for infirmaries, a 55-meter-long gallery, and sanitary facilities.

Berquó died before the project was completed and the pavilions never fulfilled this function, having served, for more than 100 years, to house a military barracks, a police station, and a secondary school. These pavilions are sadly now abandoned, but there are plans to try and repurpose them in the future.

Statues in Parque Dom Carlos I. Photo by Sergei Zeiger (Flickr)

Layout 

Today, Parque Dom Carlos I is a beautiful urban green space centered around a picturesque lake. A population of swans and ducks grace the lake, and the park also includes a tennis court, gazebo, tea house, and esplanade. Sculptures by renowned artists like Leopoldo de Almeida, Henrique Moreira, and Salvador Barata Feyo also dot the park.

Swans and ducks near the lake. Can you see the black swan? Photo by Becky Gillespie

Towards the park’s southern end, the Museu de José Malhoa highlights Portuguese art, especially works by José Malhoa. Adjacently, the eastern and southern perimeters feature the Museu Barata Feyo and the Centro de Artes. This arts center encompasses the Atelier-Museu João Fragoso and the Espaço Concas, spotlighting minimalist sculptures and vibrant paintings, respectively.

The Centro de Artes also houses the Museu Leopoldo de Almeida. The sculptor contributed to many of Portugal’s iconic monuments, such as the Monument to the Marquis of Pombal and the Padrão dos Descobrimentos in Lisbon. Additionally, he crafted bas-reliefs for Cineteatro Éden in Lisbon, and monuments honoring D. Nuno Álvares Pereira in Batalha and Infante D. Henrique in Lagos, Algarve.

Ceramic enthusiasts can explore the Museu de Cerâmica and Faianças Artísticas Fabrica Bordallo Pinheiro, both showcasing Rafael Bordallo Pinheiro’s creations. Lastly, the northern edge proudly hosts the Museu do Ciclismo, a unique homage to Portuguese cycling.

Opening Times 

Parque Dom Carlos I is open daily from 7:00 AM – 10:00 PM. Park admission is free.

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