An hour north by car from Lisbon lies an unexpected oasis: a 35-acre manicured garden with thousands of stone sculptures. This beautiful curiosity was created in response to the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan, a 6th-century treasure in Afghanistan that was destroyed in 2001 by the Taliban. Comendador Jose Berardo, an avid art collector and investor, wanted this sprawling park to represent peace at a time when the world seemed to be in short supply of it.
Among the many highlights here are the Oriental Garden, which contains more than 6,000 tons of marble, mostly in the form of standing and reclining Buddhas. Visitors should also check out the 700 replicas of the terracotta warriors unearthed in Xi’an, China. Each of these statues is hand-painted blue and modeled after an individual warrior.
The African Sculpture Garden, meanwhile, focuses on the art of the Shona people, as well as a wide assortment of lions, elephants, and other megafauna. Finally, Pagoda Lake features 13 Buddhas rising from the waters in rather dramatic fashion. There’s a train that runs through the grounds, if you’re in a hurry, but it’s a pleasure to stroll through the Japanese maples and cherry trees here.
Know Before You Go
In January 2023 entry was €6 for adults, and an additional €6 for the train ride.