Casa de Mateus
Is a Douro River cruise in Portugal in your future? Have you ever sipped Mateus rosé? If yes to either (or simply if you’re a lover of culture and wine), be sure to visit Casa de Mateus, an absolutely stunning Baroque estate that has become a cultural center in the north of Portugal. Available as a shore excursion on river cruises to the area, the palace is owned by the Mateus Foundation. It sponsors various cultural activities throughout the year, including music, literature, art, festivals, and exhibitions of varying themes.
Take a Tour
The 18th-century mansion depicted on bottles of Mateus rosé is a masterpiece that can most likely be traced to Italian-born architect Nicolau Nasoni. On a guided tour of the mansion (available in several languages), you can visit the main quarters, where you’ll find a pleasing blend of rusticity and understated elegance. Notice the intricately carved wood ceilings, period furnishings, 17th- and 18th-century paintings, and ceramics.
Move from the granite wings of the palace to the forecourt draped in lichen, to the ornate stairway to the cypress tunnel, just one part of the estate’s fantastical boxwood gardens. Inside, don’t miss the library, in which you’ll find the first illustrated editions of Luis Vaz Camões’ epic Portuguese poem Os Lusíadas and a room brimming with religious objects ranging from pieces of a holy fingernail to a piece of the true cross.
The Dining Room is still used for special occasions. It boasts a cabinet of mahogany and solid Brazilian rosewood, silver Rococo silver and tableware, a beautiful set of basin and ewer from the 18th century, and a new Chinese porcelain set with an exquisite tea service. Still, lives line the ways, by Antwerp painters Jan Fyt, Frans, and Peter Sneyders
Taste the Wine
Of course, wine tastings are available. Head to the palace’s adega, or wine cellar, to try locally produced ports, including those produced at Quinta da Costa das Aguaneiras, and other Douro wines, including those of Lavradores de Feitoria. The lovely Alvarelhão is the closest to the first rosé bottled by Mateus in the 1940s. There are four tasting levels, depending on how deep into the region you’d like to go.
Enjoy a day of culture, art, architecture, and wine at Casa de Mateus. Let’s chat about how to make that happen as part of your Douro River cruise.