ALENTEJO, PORTUGAL

Portugal is a very diverse country, in terms of geography, in terms off food and in terms of very unique regions. I was very fortunate to travel around the whole country for several assignments in the past and one of my favourite trips was visiting the region of Alentejo.

From Lisbon it is about a 1.5h car ride to the southeast into the heart land of Portugal.

My first stop was the estate of Torre de Palma which is a small Design hotel on the grounds of a century old vineyard. This dates back to the Roman Empire and up until today Torre de Palma produces outstanding wines.

Its exquisite re-design and renovation speaks for itself. All he guest rooms are arranged around the main building which holds all the amenities and creates a sort of main square. This layout is original to the former estate.

Just down the hill you can tour the former Roman settlement and see the excavations. The director of the estate told us that archeologists found decorative items from Egypt and Rome. Which showed the very advanced trade and logistics of the Roman empire.

Above right: Torre de Palme print.

Crossing the region of Alentejo was a very calm experience, it is a simple but beautiful landscape. Rich of history and friendly people. I could always feel a proud sense of heritage and tradition to the region to the food and to the lifestyle.

Almost at the border to Spain sits the Alqueva Dam. A government project spanning decades and finished in 2002 which created one of the biggest artificial lakes in Western Europe.

Visiting the village of Ideia da Luz a small village that lay in the projected flood zone of the dam was quite interesting and a little strange. It was completely rebuilt on a new site.

The Museum of Luz (Mourão, Alentejo) was erected between the village of Luz and the lakeside. It showcases the profound changes in this territory, from the occurrence of the dam and submerging of the village.

I found that the Architecture and Landscape in Alentejo had this simplicity to it. A reduction to only necessaties. Always functional and always comfortable.

A very unique approach to that was the Ecorkhotel close to Evora. Simple cubes were arranged throughout a cork tree grove and each cube holds a guest suite.

Above right: Evora 23 Portugal print.

My final destination was the real highlight of the trip. Leaving Evora and heading to the remote location of the unique grounds of Casa no Tempo.

The main house is located on a vast property of about 400 hectars of old farm land. The grounds are within the owners family for decades. Architects Aires MateusJoão and Andreia Rodrigues transformed the original structure into a serene four bedroom building while keeping the original outlines of the original barn.

Casa no Tempo gives its name the truest meaning. The moment you arrive you feel the calmness and openness in your mind. The landscape slopes slightly downwards as the main house sits on a small hill. The views from the top and the horizon gave me so much room. I felt like i am away from everything around me. It felt like there wasn’t anything around us for hours and hours.

The interior is very reduced, chic and clean. There was everything you needed but not one thing too much. It calmed me as well as it had no distractions. Stepping inside or sitting outside it had the same feeling of space to it.

The other grand feature of Casa no Tempo is the massive swimming pool. Simulating a natural beach with a slight slope towards the deepest end it felt like a small private beach. The all white pool with its crystal clear water was the perfect oasis to the hot weather in August.

The pool was awarded into the “10 best private pools” worldwide and it stood up to that truly. I just had to make it my “office” for one morning and start taking pictures in its middle. We stayed pretty cool that day working not “pool-side” but “pool-center”.

So many nights we sat under the front archway and enjoyed marvellous dinners of local cuisine prepared by Ms. Domingos while enjoying conversations with our beloved Mr. Domingos which is the grounds keeper since many years.

My stay at Casa no Tempo was the true essence of Alentejo. I will always remember that first encounter and can not wait to return for more.

Above left: Casa no Tempo print.

Thank you Alentejo and thank you Casa no Tempo,

I truly forgot time.

Copyright, Florian Innerkofler.

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