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Why was the Buddha Eden garden created?
Remember the disastrous day the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan were destroyed? The two 6th-century monumental statues used to stand tall in a cliff in the Bamiyan valley of Hazarajat. That was until March 2001, when the Taliban ordered the destruction of the statues.
But what does Bamiyan have to do with the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden in Portugal, I hear you ask? The oriental garden was created as a reaction to the carnage of the Buddhas of Bamiyan. A new park with 35 hectares of land that promotes beauty, peace, and tranquillity.
Comendador Jose (Joe) Berardo, a businessman, investor and art collector, is the owner of Bacalhôa Vinhos de Portugal, which includes the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden Garden. The project started in 2001, currently still adding more gardens and sculptures. Slowly, a harmonious and peaceful sculpted park is developed. It’s truly a unique and special place where you’ll easily spend half a day discovering its beauty. Buddha Eden is also known as the Peace Garden.
How to discover the Buddha Eden garden
From the entrance, there is an optional tourist train that will take you to different stops within the garden. It’s a great way to get an overview and decide where to start. If you’re fit and able, you can walk everywhere easily. Remember that the garden is pretty big, and you’ll walk a lot: if you decide to take the train, a ticket costs € 5,00 per person during your visit. You can hop on and hop off whenever you want at no extra fee.
When you start walking, the first area you’ll see is Palm Trees Lake, just on your right-hand side from the entrance. Colourful Koi Fish swim in the water; if lucky, you might spot some sunbathing turtles! If you take the tourist train, the first stop is at the Oriental Garden.
The Oriental Garden
The estimation is that more than six thousand tons of marble and granite were used to create all this beauty in the Oriental Garden! The golden Buddhas welcome you to the central staircase in the garden centre. The stairs lead off to a giant lying or reclining Buddha and giant Buddha on top of the hill.
The area is full of Japanese cherry trees and maples, and the lakes are filled with Koi Carp. Next to the giant Buddha, you can visit the Pagoda Towers and the Lakes of Tranquility. Even on a busy day, this is a peaceful place to visit, the perfect spot to immerse yourself in beauty.
The African Sculpture Garden
To reach the African Sculpture Garden, you’ll walk past seven hundred hand-painted blue Xian Terracotta Warriors. Each is a unique copy of the ones buried 2,200 years ago in the pits near Qin Shi Huang’s mausoleum. Small trails through the wooded area will bring you to a garden full of sculptures of African animals. You’ll find elephants, monkeys, giraffes, owls, crocodiles, and many more animal sculptures.
This area is dedicated to the Shona people of Zimbabwe, who’ve hand-sculpted stone into art for thousands of years! You’ll discover the unity between the physical and the spiritual world in the works. The belief is that every stone has a life spirit and will be sculpted in that specific life spirit. The ancestral spirits are known as Vadzimu, and it’s up to the artist to release the spirit from the stone. There are already over 200 sculptures in this area amongst the shade of the palms.
The Bamboo Maze
You’ll enjoy some more shade in the Bamboo Maze, an area within the African Sculpture Garden. You can get lost between the many sculptures, tall palms and massive bamboo stalks.
The Modern and Contemporary Sculpture Garden
The unique pieces in the Buddha Eden garden are modern and contemporary sculptures. The works are selected from the Berardo Collection and include works of many international artists. Sculptures are made by Alexander Calder, Tony Cragg, Fernando Botero, Alan Jones, Joana Vasconcelos, and many others can be found here. This open-air museum is a fantastic place for art lovers! Behind the amphitheatre, you find an area where you can grab a snack or something to drink.
Lago do Pagode
Lastly, Pagoda Lake is tough to miss. You can walk to the thirteen Buddhas of the Dead from the vineyards. From this point, you have a stunning view of the lake and the pagoda in the middle.
How to get to the Buddha Eden
The easiest way to get to Buddha Eden is by car. The journey takes around one hour if you come from Lisbon. Follow the A8 until you reach exit 12 to the N8 towards Carvalhal/Delgada. From here, you can follow the signs to the Buddha Eden. There is a large car park at the entrance of the garden.
Some tours stop at Buddha Eden. At the time of writing, there are only private tours in combination with a visit to Óbidos, and or Nazaré. This medieval town is well worth a visit, making it a great day trip from Lisbon!
Quinta dos Loridos
The garden is located at Quinta dos Loridos, a 100-acre farm in Central Portugal. It’s the place where the Bacalhôa wines of Portugal are made. If you have the time, it’s also worth visiting the vineyards. Visit the Bacalhôa Winery Museum and discover its history during the one-hour-long tour. A visit to the Bacalhôa Winery Museum also includes tasting three delicious wines.
Buddha Eden opening times
Buddha Eden, the restaurant, and the shop are open daily, apart from December 25th and January 1st.
Between May and September, you can visit between 9 AM and 7 PM. The garden is open between 9 AM and 6 PM from October until April. The last admission is half an hour before closing time.
Tickets to enter Bacalhôa Buddha Eden
You can buy your tickets at the entrance of Buddha Eden. Access to the garden costs € 5,00 per person, and the train is an additional € 5,00 per person. Children under the age of 12 can enter for free. After your visit, you can enjoy two small complimentary wines in the shop for a tasting. As Buddha Eden is so big, purchasing tickets in advance is not necessary.
Besides Buddha Eden, there are plenty of things to do in the area. Bombarral is a town in the District of Leiria in Central Portugal. And the medical village of Óbidos is just 15 kilometres away, a place not to miss during your holiday in Portugal! You can visit the seaside town Peniche, Nazaré, or Ericeira. Caldas da Rainha, Fátima, Santarém, and Alcobaça are other recommendations in the surrounding area. Stay the night, so you have plenty of time to discover this part of Portugal!
Will Buddha Eden be the most beautiful garden you’ve ever seen? Possibly! It’s a unique experience for sure, and it makes a fantastic day trip from Lisbon. It’s easy to reach by car, and with many things to see in the area, it’s a trip you won’t easily forget. You don´t have time to visit the Buddha Eden Garden? Check out the Lisbon parks instead!