Before going up to Bussaco, a stop to leave your bags at the Curia Palace Hotel. The clock in the hall is stopped at 8:00. Or will it be at 20:00? It’s right twice a day and maybe it doesn’t matter for the real trip to the past that constitutes a stay in this accommodation.
We will talk about it later on, comprising part of the history of a hotel unit where the traces of a glorious past lurk in every corner, while modernity is erupting in some unavoidable details.
But there we go. Now we’re going to set foot on the path to get lost, in a good way, through the Bussaco forest.
Bussaco: heritage, history and nature
who comes out of Harbor busy and rolls along the A1 towards the area of mealhadayou feel that you are leaving the big city as soon as you begin to be enveloped by the lush greenery that (still) dominates the Bussaco area.
So, when you start climbing the mountain, your lungs fill with pure air, your sense of smell experiences hitherto unknown smells, your view is dazzled by trees that are impossible to grasp in a single embrace.
When you are almost in a zen state, you reach the first toll. Yes, it’s true, to go through Mata Nacional do Bussaco you have to pay five euros, if you go by car. If you are more adventurous and athletic, you can go on foot or by bicycle and there is no charge.
A kilometer further on, the mouth opens in astonishment for the first time. O Hotel Palace do Bussaco (the Curia one, let’s get to it…) it is a true work of art and its magnificence could only come from the mind of an Italian artist, Luigi Manini.
In Manueline style, it has many references to the Discoveries and absolutely stunning tile panels. Of course, it is not easy to visit, as it is generally crowded, but even so, the surrounding gardens and the building itself provide fantastic images. And there is a lot to see in the surroundings.
In Mata Nacional do Bussaco, there are a number of spaces that deserve a long visit and, why not, some photography sessions.
Vale dos Abetos, Lago Grande, the majestic Fonte Fria or Jardim Novo are some of the places you shouldn’t miss. Then there is still a series of activities, such as pedestrian routes, which can be covered either freely or under appointment🇧🇷 You can even go from Bussaco to Curia.
Military Museum of Bussaco
At the Military Museum of Bussaco, an important part of our history is reviewed, namely that which is directly linked to the French invasions, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Inaugurated in 1910, it is very close to the monument to the fighters of the Peninsular War and marks the moment when the Anglo-Portuguese forces beat up Napoleon Bonaparte’s men. Bo Bussaco à Curia no Gaul passed.
The museum has valuable collections, such as an unmissable parade of toy soldiers.
Is the parish of Luso in Bussaco? Or is Bussaco in Luso? In any case, apart from the spa and the source of always fresh water (the same one, Água do Luso), there is little else to offer.
You can take the opportunity to fill up some water bottles at Fonte de S. João, which are really handy on hot days.
After going back down through the woods, here we are rolling towards Curia, which is just ahead. A road dotted with leafy trees welcomes you to a spa that was once one of the most popular in the country.
In fact, the spa park is still there, reminding us of times gone by and which, little by little, is trying to recover.
From Bussaco to Curia: a return to the past
We’re back in Curia, more precisely at the Palace Hotel, an unmeasured complex, which nowadays would be an absolutely megalomaniac project. But at the time that was how things were done and the unit was practically self-sufficient.
The main building has been completely renovated. If the rooms respond to all the requirements of comfort and modernity, the common areas breathe antiquity and refinement, allowing you to perceive what it was like in its moments of glory.
The telephone switchboard, the somewhat decrepit Olympic-sized swimming pool, the tennis court or the fantastic restaurant allow you to guess at other times and clientele.
Spas had their heyday between 1920 and 1950, roughly speaking. With the decline of this activity, the attractiveness of the land was also lost, and new paths are now beginning to be found.
In addition to the traditional spas, there are modern spas and you can always visit Curia Park. In the surroundings you can also visit spaces such as the Cellars of the Solar de São Domingos, the Santa Luzia dam or the Quinta do Encontro (with excellent wines).
Where to eat
When hunger strikes in Bussaco, there is not much to think about in this region. Yes, that’s what you’re thinking, the famous suckling pig Bairrada. The restaurants follow one another and the difficulty is to choose.
Most of them claim to be the “true”, the “unique”, the “best” piglet in the region. The truth is that this is a delicacy that almost always tastes good, regardless of the chosen space.
We went to Pedro dos Leitões. How could we have gone to Meta, Metinha, Nelson or Rei. The important thing is that the bacorinho is made according to tradition, even though there are places outside Bairrada where you can eat a beautiful suckling pig.
And this tradition is accompanied, of course, by one of the excellent sparkling wines from Bairrada and fresh potato chips. Cholesterol suffers, but the palate thanks you.
Where to stay
The Curia Palace Hotel or the Palace Bussaco Hotel are two excellent options. Those who want something cheaper can opt for Quinta dos Três Pinheiros, the Alegre Hotel or the Vinil M Hotel.
How to go
Those who use the A1, take the Mealhada exit and soon several signs will appear indicating Bussaco and Curia. And as soon as you leave the toll booth, the first suckling pig restaurant appears.