Today I’m pleased to bring you Versailles Century’s first house tour, except the house is now a hotel. I’ll explain.
The Palacio do Freixo was built around 1750 on the banks of the Douro river near Porto for one Dom Jeronimo de Tavora e Noronha. Portuguese Wikipedia informs me that he was a wealthy gentleman with estates in the Douro valley. He was also the heir of the Dean of the Porto Cathedral, and was instrumental in bringing Nicolau Nasoni (see the previous post), the Italian artist and architect who designed the Palacio, to Porto in 1725 to work on projects for the archdiocese. Dom Geronimo left the Palacio to his younger brother, a knight in the Order of Malta, whose descendants sold it in the 19th century to a rich merchant, who built a soap factory next door. It passed through several more hands and uses before finally being declared a national monument in 1910. The Porto municipal administration acquired it 1986 and extensive restoration work was undertaken between 2000 and 2003. Since 2009, the Pestana Group has operated it as a pousada, or heritage hotel.
We’ll take a tour of the Palacio as a historic house in this post, and in the next one I’ll review it as a hotel.