Historic Gardens of Portugal: Qualification and Structuring of a New Touristic Offer



Publication Date

August 2022


In historic gardens, natural and cultural heritage merge, claiming a unique position for conservation and maintenance. Historic gardens are places of memory that accumulate knowledge. Throughout human history, they have always been spaces for innovation serving as laboratories for scientific and technological advancements. They are particularly valuable when considering present day challenges such as climate change adaptation, namely for their selective use of vegetation where exotic and indigenous plant species coexist or for their distinguished management of water systems. Touristic demand for parks and gardens, whether historic or contemporary, has experienced significant expansion as places for visitors. However, historic gardens arise as a special appeal to those interested in heritage and require comprehensive visits that encompass ecology, history, art, botany, among others.

Portugal has a remarkable number of historic gardens, whose existence and value is largely unknown by its community. On the other hand, tourism plays a key role in Portugal and the competitiveness of this sector is expected to remain high. As such, Turismo de Portugal, the tourism office of Portugal, is investing on the diversification and consolidation of the national offer. These circumstances let the Portuguese Association of Historic Gardens – AJH, to propose the Historic Gardens Route of Portugal as a new touristic offer capable of attracting and retaining visitors in an efficient, attractive, and sustainable manner. The developed methodology included, 1) the preparation of a revisited and updated inventory, 2) the creation of touristic routes of historic gardens and, 3) the certification through a Quality Label and 4) the promotion of marketable tourist packs. The current Historic Gardens Route of Portugal includes twelve touristic routes, comprising a total of 215 gardens (150 private and 65 public).

In the course of these works, it is argued that AJH is promoting historic gardens of Portugal as spaces for living, contemplation, production, and enjoyment, recognizing their exceptional, fragile, and ephemeral values, through a particularly targeted touristic approach that offers another form of sustainable subsistence.