Quinta das Lagrimas is celebrated across Portugal as the setting for the country’s most famous love story.
Located in the centre of the university city of Coimbra, this beautifully preserved quinta was the 14th century palace of the Infante Pedro: the son of Dom Alfono IV and heir to the Portuguese throne. After the death of his wife in 1345, Pedro fell in love with lady-in-waiting Ines de Castro. Being of Castilian descent, Ines was deemed unsuitable as a future Queen by Alfonso who imposed a forced separation – with Ines living in the nearby Santa Clara a Velha monastery.
By chance, the aqueduct which provided drinking water to the monastery passed through the gardens of Quinta das Lagrimas, and during their enforced separation, Pedro would sail love letters to Ines down the aqueduct in small wooden boats. Their relationship came to a grizzly end when Ines was assassinated by order of the King, and it’s said that the waters of the Fonte das Lagrimas, the Fountain of Tears in the gardens of the quinta, are the tears of Ines herself.
Thankfully, this five-star quinta has seen a few upgrades since the 14th century – there are four Suites which evoke the 18th century Pombaline period with their bold panelling, plush furnishings and Georgian-style sideboards and console tables. There’s also a modern wing which houses the Palace, Garden and Spa rooms – their décor is light, comfortable and contemporary, and the rooms either overlook or have direct access to the gardens. The quinta also has two excellent restaurants which showcase the best of Central Portugal’s produce – the Arcadas and the Pedro & Ines Esplanada; the latter extends out into the gardens for alfresco dining.
Coimbra itself is steeped in history – its university is Portugal’s oldest academic institution, established in 1290, the Biblioteca Joanina houses many of the country’s most-important historical documents, and the Museu Machadao de Castro preserves one of the country’s most important roman forums, together with key pieces of Moorish and medieval archaeology.