Parque de Serralves

Fundação de Serralves
Porto, Portugal

Submitted by: Nuno Pinho

A Cultural Foundation with a museum, park and gardens.

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Why It Works

The Park was planned and built at the very threshold of modernism in the art of garden design, although it also incorporates a number of aesthetic principles from previous periods. Both nationally and world-wide, it represents an extremely valuable creation. Its historical and artistic interest, its size and scenic diversity, as well as its excellent state of conservation and integrity all help to make this a unique and highly distinctive space. Situated in the midst of a heavily populated urban area, it plays a fundamental role in enhancing the city's visual and environmental quality.

The Park consists of numerous distinctive sections, each with its own set of characteristics, yet which flow into one another naturally. Beginning at the House, which dominates the upper portion of the park, the immediate garden is structured around a 500 metre central axis, which projects in the direction of the Douro River and extends downwards at different levels, with lawns, flower beds and sloping water falls. This portion is bordered by walls and trees. At the end of this more formal garden, a stairway leads down to a small lake, "The Romantic Lake", which interrupts the central axis, before proceeding down to the fields, pastures and greenhouses. Upon reaching the far end of the park, one finds the former stables.

Proceeding back up towards the House, bearing north, lay the fruit orchards and the new gardens of the Museum of Contemporary Art. Continuing to proceed upwards to the House, the next significant section consists of the rose gardens, the tree lined road and the formal lateral gardens of the House. The rose gardens, among the largest in Portugal, are unique in their variety of roses. The entire park is complemented by a number of densely wooded areas.

What Makes Parque de Serralves a Great Place?

Situated in the midst of a heavily populated urban area, it plays a fundamental role in enhancing the city's visual and environmental quality.

The Serralves Foundation is set in an unusually beautiful park, in the urban heart of Porto. It includes the Serralves House (an Art Deco building from the 1930s/1940s), the Contemporary Art Museum and its Auditorium, as well as other buildings and structures. Originally designed as spaces for an exclusive private residence, the house and park represent the full expression of the hopes and dreams of Carlos Alberto Cabral (1895-1968), 2nd Count of Vizela.

The Serralves Park is the result of landscaping processes lasting more than a century, forming a unit that is complex in terms of both space and time: there are the remains of a 19th-century garden, the farm known as Quinta do Mata-Sete, the garden of the Serralves House and the landscaped area of the Contemporary Art Museum.

The park’s uniqueness, together with the various programmes developed by the Serralves Foundation, has contributed to the importance of its role in the promotion of the cultural and environmental quality of the city of Porto, whilst at the same time representing a place that invites people to enjoy a pleasant stroll under the trees that cast shadows over its avenues. Spaces of an exceptional formal quality are to be found organised around two main axes, set at right angles to each other. Here, light and shade, and a succession of different views, together with the colour and texture of the vegetation, provide visitors with particularly enjoyable areas to walk around.

Given the historical, cultural and artistic importance of the Serralves Park, as well as its mission to improve the environmental urban quality of Oporto, the Serralves Foundation offers a great variety of programmes aimed at promoting the Park as an artistic space, a highly diverse, unique ecological environment where educational and recreational activities can take place

Over the years, the Serralves landscape has manifested a rich texture of form, light and colour in a highly individual manner. Autumn and winter present exceptional contrasts in these textures. At these times of the year, features which are usually less apparent come to the fore: bulbs, mushrooms, floral highlights in the bushes, the presence of particular birds and the cultivation of the fields illustrate the different seasons.

Come and enjoy the Serralves Park!

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