Casa y Quinta de Villar d'Allen

In the world history of the european and portuguese gardens, the camellia found in the gardens of " Villar d'Allen " has a very special significance. This garden is a large trees landscape with high walls surrounding it, but from a distance the magnificent specimens can be seen growing higher then the walls.

The upper branches of the "araucarias" "cedrus" and others, have overgrown the camellia and orange trees those are full of hanging fruits and flowers and are located at the entrance to maintain the intimacy of the garden.

The large gated entry indicates clearly the local that we are about to visit. Embossed is the historic name "Villar de Allen" and also the family shield with the heralded symbols of thr Allen family. This romantic "Quinta" is located on the Rua do Freixo, very close to the River Douro and not far from the historic city of Porto.

The "Quinta" is the result of unification of the "Quinta de Arcaria" and of the "Monte de Fonte Pedrinha" . The land was acquired by Joao Francisco Allen in 1839, part of the land belonged to the old homesteads of the "Villa Verde" and thet the "Vessada", purchased afterwards in 1869 and 1872 by the first Countess Villar d'Allen daughter-in law of Joao Francisco Allen.

Some of these homesteads have long histories and were owned by old and distinguished families from Porto that passed through this period of time with large financial difficulties.

The Ferreira Nobre family, whom for generations was the historians for the City of Porto, owned the "Quinta de Arcaria" in 1775, this homestead was mortgaged and sold to Manuel Simoes, a wealthy businessman established in Porto. After his death the momestead was inherited by his daughter, Engracia Roberta, whom when she died in 1839 donated it to Misericordia de Porto to be sold to help the Hospital of Santo Antonio.

The Monte Pedrinha Hill, owned by the Noronha Leme Cerneche e Távora family was sold to Freire de Andrade. After the death of Rodrigo Freire de Andrade the family fell into financial ruin. Also at that time the homestead of "Quinta da Vessada" sold to Vice-Countess de Villar d'Allen by Rita Roberta Freire de Andrade, the homestead in this period was in a ruinous state.

The mansion contains famous outstanding furniture, purchased by Joao Allen and by his on Alfredo Allen at the firts Universal Exposition in Paris (1862). Also noted with interest in thr main rooms is the sculptors of famous historic and mythological figures, the room is called the "Room of the Statues", thet is rectangular in shape with niches containing carvings representing the four seasons of the year. Also found are the portraits of the entire Allen family from George Allen (1678-1772) to Alfredo Ayres de Gouveia Allen (1900-1975). The oldest portraits are those attributed to Mercier.

Visiting the palace and garden of "Villar d'Allen" should be done leisurely that this setting requires enjoying the quality and variety of thr vegetation that thrives in the garden surrounded by the growing City of Porto, yhat has converted this location into and eddy of peace inthe middle of rapid urban construction that surrounds it.

The world of the camellia is represented by monumental examples and varieties that are well known, however, others because of their age and rarity are quite difficult to identify. These camellias that are mixed amongst other exotic species of plants that create a shaded ares caused by the densely growing flowering plants live a peaceful life in an ideal micro climate.


This monumental park does not distract from the qualities of the palace introduced into it with its romantic architecture invaded the City of Porto in the nineteenth century, leaving such an influence that in this period it was typical to see these characteristics imbedded in the portughese gardens of this time and set the norm for future gardens uf Portugal.

The ideal rustic garden always mixed in with local nature and tries to be a prolongation of this same vegetation of the surrounding topography, presenting its decorative details, and the customs of the people taking pleasure in them, spreading these images throughout Europe. They were diffused from the outcome of the magnificent geometric designs creted by the spectacular french gardening scholl of the Mollet family that reached its highest splendor under Andre le Notre.

Thir romantic movement came to Porto by the travels of the important locals throughout Europe and families of wine merchants from Great Britain and other europeans countries that settled in many locations in Portugal. The ideal romantic developed portuguese gardens that over time developed have their own individuality.

The access to the palace is a curved path bordered by many old types of camellias and other trees that create shade and freshness, mixed with decorative pieces of architecture introduced in the thick vegetation that permits one to appreciate the fact that they are entering a historic garden of special importance



© José C. García/Daniel Domínguez/E.Valent - 2005