Jardins da Fundação Gulbenkian
UNESCO World Heritage Designation :
No. Tentative list of Portugal (2017)
Type of Historical Garden:
Modernist garden, 20th century.
Av. de Berna, 45A 1067-001 Lisboa, Portugal
Web: gulbenkian.pt; gulbenkian.pt/jardim/
Lisbon Metropolitan Area
Google Maps Coordinates:
Access from the provincial capital :
The Gulbenkian Garden is located in Lisbon, the capital town of Portugal
Visitors’ Reception Centre
Activities for the general public
Parking for private vehicles
Parking for buses
Access for people with disabilities or reduced
Nearest parking for buses:
Praça de Espanha Bus and Car Park
Nearest parking for private vehicles:
Berna Car Park (underground) and Praça de Espanha Bus and Car Park
Days open to the public:
No age restrictions
Types of visits:
Guided and free visits
Duration of visits:
Maximum number of visitors in a group:
Maximum number of visitors per day:
Average daily use: 1700 visitors
€8.00 (price per person)
Prior purchase of tickets:
Yes. At the online ticket office and at the ticket office
Yes. Didactic workshops are offered regularly, both to schools and general public. They can address issues such as the garden and building, the project and archetypes, landscape culture, biodiversity, ecology and cycles of nature, heritage and environment.
Activities for the public:
Yes. The activities for public are mainly guided tours, workshops, courses and conferences focusing mainly on the divulgation of the Gardens and Foundation building, as all the inherent themes
Nearest cultural destinations:
– Teatro Aberto (http://www.teatroaberto.com/);
– Casa-Museu Dr. Anastácio Gonçalves (https://pt-pt.facebook.com/
Nearest natural destinations:
– Eduard VII Park;
– Monsanto Forest Park
Crafts, gastronomy, gift shops etc., at the site or in the area:
CARAPINHA, Aurora, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian: o jardim, Lisboa, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, 2006.
TOSTÕES, Ana; CARAPINHA, A., CORTE-REAL, P. , Gulbenkian, Arquitetura e Paisagem Lisboa, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, 2013.
Black and White pictures –
_001© FCG/Mário de Oliveira
027© FCG/Mário de Oliveira
Colour pictures –
ADG n.º 30674© FCG/Ricardo Oliveira Alves
ADG n.º 18681© FCG/Ricardo Oliveira Alves
ADG n.º 24236© FCG/Ricardo Oliveira Alves
ADG n.º 24045© FCG/Ricardo Oliveira Alves
ADG n.º 24041© FCG/Ricardo Oliveira Alves
ADG n.º 24228© FCG/Ricardo Oliveira Alves
ADG n.º 24305© FCG/Ricardo Oliveira Alves
ADG n.º 24306© FCG/Ricardo Oliveira Alves
ADG n.º 24342© FCG/Ricardo Oliveira Alves
ADG n.º 44878© FCG/Ricardo Oliveira Alves
ADG n.º 35558© FCG/Ricardo Oliveira Alves
ADG n.º 7255© FCG/Ricardo Oliveira Alves
ADG n.º 18644© FCG/Ricardo Oliveira Alves
ADG n.º 6446© FCG/Ricardo Oliveira Alves
ADG n.º 31701© FCG/Ricardo Oliveira Alves
ADG n.º 13288© FCG/Ricardo Oliveira Alves
Natural environment of the garden
The Gardens of the Gulbenkian Foudation are located in a Thermo-mediterranean climate region and embedded in the Portuguese landscape. It respects its character, structure and biodiversity. Located in a north-facing smooth slope, where many of the original water lines converge.
Lisbon is one of the cities with the mildest climate in Europe, giving it its latitude to the south, a climate similar to that of the Mediterranean countries, while the moderating effect of the Atlantic Ocean prevents it from being too hot in the summer nor too cold in the winter. It is also very sunny, with about 260 days of sunshine a year. The average minimum temperature in spring is 10ºC and the maximum temperature almost 20ºC, with sun and some days of rain. July and August are quite sunny, hot and dry, with an average maximum temperature of 28 ° C. The winters can have enough rain, wind and cold, with a minimum average of 8ºC and a maximum of 15ºC.
Concerning the spontaneous vegetal associations, the Portuguese landscape has a wide variety of situations, being most of them based on some species of quercus tree. As the region of Lisbon, and mainly the city itself has a lot of microclimates, the project of this garden works with some of the main vegetation groups of the Portuguese landscape – the oak forest of the humid temperate zone, oak of the hot humid zone, oak of the dry and hot continental zone, oak of the humid temperate zone, alpine zone, and riverside formation.
The garden is now almost like an oasis inside the dense city of Lisbon – capital of Portugal. However, it is linked to the nearest parks and natural areas by a network of “ecological corridors” that support the connectivity for the natural life and fluxes. The main nearest green areas are Monsanto Forest Park and Eduardo VII Park.
The spontaneous fauna that one can find in this garden and other natural areas in Lisbon is composed by many species of birds, mainly insect and seed eater, many migrating birds that stay for a season or stopover during migrations, frogs, reptiles, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, and many other insects, fish and bats.
Historical background of the garden
The place where nowadays is located the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, in the center of the city of Lisbon, was, in the 18th Century, one of the city gates.
Named Quinta do Provedor dos Armazéns (Warehouses Provider Farmhouse), and property of Fernando Larre, it was a recreational farmhouse, like many that featured the suburbs of Portuguese main cities, with a building, a garden, an orchard, a kitchen garden, vineyards and croplands.
The trapeze like structure we identify today with the Gardens of the Gulbenkian Foudation, was already visible in the 19th Century maps. It was defined by the Palhavã road and the Rego road, located at the end of S. Sebastião road. There was the Administrative end of the city of Lisbon, composed by a ring of recreational farmhouses that marked the transition between the urban space and a landscape drawn by kitchen gardens, orchards, olive groves, cereal lowlands and oak forests.
Although the park had been home to the Lisbon Zoological Garden (1884-94) and the Feira Popular fair (1943-57), its character of landscape park idealized by Jacob Weiss – a Swiss gardener hired by Eugénio de Almeida in 1866 – was still identifiable when the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation´s Board of Trustees decided to purchase part of the park to fulfil the wish of its founder.
Bought in 1860 by José Maria Eugénio de Almeida, the house was transformed into São Sebastião da Pedreira Palace and the park became full of ponds, a bandstand, nurseries, exotic trees, stables and coach houses. In 1865, Giuseppe Cinatti is invited to build stables and coach houses inside the park drawn by Cinatti himself with Valentim Correia. The name of the site appear at this time, in honor of the mother and daughter of Eugénio de Almeida. In 1884, the park became the home of Lisbon’s first zoological garden. From 1943, the space were used as the venue for the Feira Popular fairground.
The greater part of Santa Gertrudes Park was sold to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation on 30 April 1957. At that time, it was organized a competition by invitation for the construction of the Foundation’s Headquarters and Museum, monitored by national and international consultants. Of the 3 submitted proposals, were selected the option A presented by Alberto Pessoa, Pedro Cid and Ruy d’Athouguia. The project for planning approval was submitted on 31 July 1961, with a descriptive memoir saying the complex should be integrated into natural surroundings.
Gonçalo Ribeiro Telles and António Barreto submitted their final design on 31 Mach 1963. In August of the same year, work on the garden commenced. It was only concluded in 1969. The Park was officially inaugurated as “Parque Calouste Gulbenkian” in July 1965.
(Aurora Carapinha e Paula Côrte-Real)
Description of the Garden
The descriptive memoir that accompanied the preliminary design in 1961 already stated: “The broad idea based on contrasts of the shade and light, tree coverage and glade is the constant aim of the design. Movement, be it in the growth of the plants or in the different aspects of volume, colour and light the plants take on in the diferent aspects of volume, colour and light the plants take on in the diferent seasons, […] is also an element to be taken into consideration in the development of the project. Likewise, light and how it falls and the projection of shadows and their types […] are all aspects worthy of study with which one can enrich the whole.”
[In order to be able to share this valuable information, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation has recently created an open data source called the Garden’s Digital Archive. This open data is the result of the compilation, digitization, cataloging and interpretation of all the information that documents the project and work of the (then) Calouste Gulbenkian Park.
The Gardens of the Gulbenkian Foudation, a project of the 60s, by Gonçalo Ribeiro Telles and António Facco Viana Barreto, is the most iconic garden of the modern movement in Portugal.
It is characterized by an innovative design that reflects the concept of landscape defended by the first generation of portuguese landscape architects, giving rise to a new way of designing gardens in Portugal, closer to portuguese culture, the ecology of the Mediterranean Landscape and a design which works with the masses of vegetation and light to build ambiences.
This project was also paradigmatic because of the number of testimonies it left, namely studies and drawings, but also notes and records of the whole process.
Its navigation offers different possibilities of research and the diversity of documents allows to articulate the diverse contents in a comprehensive way.
With this “open data” resource it is now possible for the more curious or the specialized researchers, from the most diverse areas to deepen the study of the whole process of conception and construction of the garden.]
The Garden drawn distinguishes itself, in the context of modern garden drawings, by its cultural language which is represented by the vegetation. It’s based on the Portuguese vernacular landscape in its ecological and cultural dimension, which creates “microlandscapes” in the interior of the garden, recognized, not only by humans, but also the wildlife that populates it.
This concern with conserving the tree coverage and creating the nurseries and gardening service was justified by the importance and significance that Santa Gertrudes Park held for both Azeredo Perdigão and the design team.
The project of building and garden was conceived by a multi-disciplined team. Building and garden should function like the two parts of a whole, being planned at the same time, to achieve the same purpose. It followed the principles of relation between interior and exterior, functionality, break strong axis, and draw spaces not forms, the social dimension of the garden, ecological and regional concerns, respect cultural and historical identity, and beauty within nature.
It is an artificial ecosystem where many of the garden areas, apparently natural, are laid on concrete. Though many parts of the garden are green roofs, we don’t realize it. The ecosystems and the natural elements are lead in a way where complex becomes simple.
The terrain modelling is the template of the garden, the base. To the north, east and near the south facade of the museum and the large auditorium the terrain presents a gentle slope that allows the approach to the building as well as establishes the continuity between interior and exterior. At the southern and western limits, the modelling has more variability and roughness due to the presence of the proposed terraces that retreats or advances. In a shell-like depression, a big lake fed by several water streams reflects the sky and polarizes the space of the garden, as its heart.
It’s from the lake that the irrigation water is used, thus creating a water level variation. This is one of the examples as all the artificial mechanisms that support the garden sustenance are inspired by the natural order.
Throughout the years, the garden has been kept according to the founder principles and natural dynamic. In 2000 the garden was object of a requalification intervention with the main purposes of adjusting it to the increasing number of visitors and mobility needs. This intervention was still carried out by one of the original authors of the garden’s project. Once again, as in 1961, all the interventions are guided by the deep understanding of the multifunctional system that is the topos.
(Aurora Carapinha e Paula Côrte-Real)
1957/1963 – Preparing the park and the provisional facilities
1959/1962 – From competition to Preliminary Draft
1963/1969 – From Execution Project to construction
1965 – Inauguration
2000 – Requalification interventions by one of the original landscape architects
Brief description of the Interpretation Centre/Museum
The Gonçalo Ribeiro Telles Interpretation Centre has two rooms where public can access to the history of the Gardens of the Gulbenkian Foudation and the fundamental principles that lead the landscape architecture project.
In the first room, the interactive installation proposes to revisit the design process of the Gardens of the Gulbenkian Foudation, here presented through an original text by architect Gonçalo Ribeiro Telles: “Ten Commandments for the Construction of a Garden”.
Each beam of light activates, by the user’s interaction, the corresponding “commandment” video. Over the 10 commandments one can perceive the different concepts, moments and secrets that, at the moment it was conceived and still today, determine the spatiality of the happy and pleasant place the Gardens of the Gulbenkian Foudation are. A landscape that works with the memory of the place, and, as said by Gonçalo Ribeiro Telles himself, builds “the link between matter and idea.” The ten commandments are:
– A garden is the sublimation of a place, making it joyful and pleasant.
– Water, translated in its aesthetic serenity, in its rhythmic movement and musical dynamic.
– Nature understood in its biological diversity and in the rhythm of life.
– The light’s splendor, achieved through the contrast between shade and light and through the harmony of colors.
– The depth of perspectives and the outline of the successive frames highlight distances and forms.
– Integration into the surrounding landscape as long as it is ordered and beautiful.
– Acceptance, as the basis for conceiving a garden or landscape, of the “natural order,” that is, Nature free from the meaning of human society.
– The “natural order” and the “cultural order” come together to answer Mankind’s needs.
– In the design of a garden or a landscape we must exalt simplicity and avoid decoration.
– A garden and a landscape are the result of ideas and projects. They are never the result of decoration. Their greatness and beauty lies in what’s essential to them, in just the right measure.
The whole second room, lined with cork, is an invocation of the Gardens of the Gulbenkian Foudation, specially created by Bernardo Carvalho for the creative minds of children. Ducks, frogs, acorns and water lilies are characters of the many stories this place tells. The room has three boxes (magnifiers) which, if you lurk, you can see in real-time, the Garden´s nooks, impossible to discover from the ground! A big screen tells the story of the Garden. A story that begins with a eucalyptus tree in a park, then animals in a zoo, merry-go-rounds at a fair, horse and bike racing and finally, an oasis with museums, shadow and many inhabitants and visitors. The images of these stories can be colored and sent by email from the screen itself.
(Aurora Carapinha e Paula Côrte-Real)