Tag Archive: estrela


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I love this place. The Jardim Da Estrela (Star Garden) in Lisbon is fairly small, but captures every aspect of community life.

I’ve been here many times, but never in winter. The day after Christmas day (a Saturday), seemed likely to attract quite a few visitors, but it was a sunny 17 degrees Celsius, so it felt more like spring or late summer, and the place had a comfortable business about it.

The sun was low, capturing the brilliant leaf colours of Ginkgo and Cercis. There was joy all around; old men sharing a joke and a bench; young lovers embracing amid the long shadows; children trying out new bikes and scooters; friends sitting out with a smoke and a coffee next to arguing geese and under low flying parakeets; dogs exercising their owners still full from festive food; youngsters stretching themselves in the playground and keep fit fanatics doing likewise on the exercise equipment; only the games tables and community library lacked their usual clientele on this holiday break.

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This Star shines all year long- I smile, long and wide every time I visit.

Old School Gardener


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WP_20150808_12_39_16_ProThe Star Park (Jardim da Estrela), is certainly one of my favourite places, not just in Lisbon, but anywhere (not that I can claim to be a well-travelled gardener!).

I was glad to be able to see it in mid summer once more, bustling with life across the generations but managing somehow to retain a serene calmness that makes you just want to sit and watch the world go by. And its also wonderfully cool under the many tall trees that give shelter from the hot summer sun. I always love seeing the voluntary library with its attentive manager and the beautifully ornate bandstand’s – perhaps one day I’ll hear it in use.

Sadly, the nearby English Cemetery, on which I’ve posted before, was closed on this latest visit, but we did manage to find a fascinating underground reservoir to visit as we wandered back towards the centre of Lisbon, where we finished the day with a walk around the Moorish district of Alfama and had a beery lunch overlooking the River Tagus.

The underground cathedral that is the Lisbon Patriarchal Reservoir

The underground cathedral that is the Lisbon Patriarchal Reservoir

Old School Gardener

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I wrote an earlier article about the ‘Star Garden’ (Jardim da Estrela) in Lisbon, singing its praises as a wonderful example of a classic public park/ gardens and how it has maintained an important role in the life of the capital. On a recent trip I managed to weave in an early Autumn visit, something I haven’t done before.

It was even better than in the Spring – luxuriant foliage was everywhere, people were out and about enjoying the space and the low autumn sunshine provided some wonderful lighting effects. I was particularly taken this time with the little ‘public library’ housed in a picturesque kiosk in the centre of the gardens. Obviously popular with a set of older men, who here, as in other parts of the gardens, were reading or playing cards- one suspects that they are regulars.

This seems to be a wonderful amenity and an idea that’s worth a try in UK parks and gardens! (or are there some examples already out there that I’m not aware of?)

I also mentioned in my previous article the various statues in the gardens and how these were placed here after the formation of the Portuguese Republic in the early 20th century. I made a point in this visit to seek some more of them out, as I had not noticed them before, hiding, as they seem to be, under trees or in mature shrubbery.

My visit felt rather like meeting up with an old friend, someone I hadn’t seen for some time. I was able to easily recollect their more important physical features and personaility traits, but was also drawn to some new features or angles on them. My ‘new look’ at Estrela was repaid not only with the uncovering  of more statues, but also with some superb scenes of dappled sunlight (including the dramatic back lighting of large exotic leaves), superb ‘Dragon’ and other trees, a fantastic decorative ceiling on the bandstand roof, lively play area, late summer blooms of Hibiscus and unusual tree conservation measures (filling in a hole in a trunk with brickwork!)

I wonder what the place must be like high summer when various events inlcuding live Jazz add yet another dimension to this magical place? Another visit beckons…..

Related article: Portuguese Gardens: Estrela Garden, Lisbon

Old School Gardener

Entrance to the Estrela gardenFollowing my article about Portuguese Heritage Gardens, I thought I’d turn my attention to a few of my favourite public gardens in that country. I’m beginning with one of my real favourites, one I love to return to when I’m in Lisbon (not that that’s very often!).

It’s the Estrela Garden (the Jardim da Estrela or Garden of the Star) which has a wonderful blend of exotic, artful, friendly charm with an atmosphere from the best of classic 19th century neighbourhood parks and gardens. It’s no surprise, then , that it remains as one of the most popular gardens in Lisbon. The orignal layout – 19th century romantic landscape style – features plenty of exotic plants and a central pond.
It is known officially as the Jardim Guerra Junqueiro (Junqueiro was a famous poet and politician who was a key figure in the downfall of the Portuguese monarchy and the establishment of the Portuguese Republic in 1910). In the 1840s the governor of Lisbon saw the need for a public garden in the densely populated city, and thanks to a donation by a wealthy baron, the governor was able to acquire the area  (5 acres) opposite the Estrela Basilica. Work on building the garden started in 1842 but due to the outbreak of war and financial difficulties, it didn’t open to the public for another ten years.

The gardens are laid out in a landscaped style with plenty of exotic trees, cacti, flower beds and a pond with fountains. The garden is especially popular with locals who come here during weekends to socialize, stroll along the paths, have a drink at the café, or play cards at one of the permanent tables among the trees.

The garden was designed by gardeners Bonard and João Francisco and it originally featured several romantic structures such as a gazebo and a Chinese pavilion. These structures are no longer there, but there are plenty of sculptures and a 19th century wrought iron bandstand, originally located at the site of the City’s main boulevard, Avenida da Liberdade. It was moved here in 1936.

After the creation of the Portuguese republic, several statues were installed in the park, the most expressive of which is of a farmer (sculptor Costa Mota,1913).  There is another of a female nude known as ‘O Despertar’ (sculptor Simões de Almeida).The most famous statue in the park is probably that of the Guardadora de Patos (keeper of the ducks) – a limestone replica of the marble original from 1914, it shows the protagonist of a popular fairy tale. Other statues include a dog spouting water from its mouth and 3 other busts depicting poets and an actor. More recent additions include a children’s playground and a pond-side cafe. The garden hosts the annual  Out Jazz festival – on Sunday afternoons during this time (usually May), Jardim Estrela will be alive with music and people enjoying the Sunday evening jazz in the open air auditorium.

Beyond the park is the English Cemetery, founded in 1717 and originally shared with the Dutch community. Novelist Henry Fielding, author of Tom Jones, died during a visit to Lisbon and is buried here.

Here are some images to let you get the feel of the place.

Source: A View on Cities

Old School Gardener

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