August 9, 2018: Palácio de Estói, Portugal

 

Estói is a small town in the Algarve, some 10km inland from Faro. It is home to the remains of a Roman villa (the 'ruins of Milreu'), but its most famous landmark is probably the Palácio de Estói, which nowadays operates as a 'pousada' – a hotel housed in a historical building. It is pictured above. (NB: The white balance has not gone wrong in this photo. The sky really was an unbelievable shade of blue that afternoon – I remember my wife commenting on that. The additional shots below were taken the next morning.)

The palace as such dates from the 19th century, with the associated guest accommodation occupying an adjacent modern block. It is known, amongst other things, for its fine azulejos tiles. The two photos below show some of them.

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The palace and its grounds are dotted with numerous sculptures of various sizes. Whilst they may not be world-class masterpieces, they add a lot to the atmosphere of the place.

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The upper gardens – depicted below – apparently were restored to their original French-inspired layout in 2008 when the latest phase of renovation work on the palace was completed. (The much larger lower gardens are also pleasant to look at, but do not seem to have received quite the same degree of attention yet.)

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Guests of the hotel are free to wander around the palace and to make use of the public areas. (I presume the same applies when you just come in for a coffee or beer.) Some of the ceilings in particular are quite ornate and a couple of the lounges are pretty grand.

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We stayed here for two days and used the pousada as a base for exploring Faro and the nearby area. We did not find the hotel's dining facilities particularly inspiring, but there are a couple of decent restaurants within walking distance.

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As I said, the guest rooms are not actually in the old palace itself, but in a modern block next to it. However, they were well-appointed and quite comfortable. We had a pleasant balcony - ideal for an hour's relaxation after a long sight-seeing day.

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