Fronteira Swan close-up2

The infamous black swan

Parks and gardens (surrounding hospitals, historical homes and museums) in Portugal are often stocked with different breeds of ducks, swans, roosters, and the occasional peacock.

There’s a black swan who mans the Koi pond at the Palace of the Marquesses of Fronteira.  The museum hosts will sell you your 3 Euro ticket and smile.  Enjoy!  And of course you will, it’s one of the most beautiful places you’ve ever seen: shiny, colorful tiles lining the home, the garden, (and what is that- a bright blue pool house?), a patio, wait- 3 patios… the lush green hedges are perfectly trimmed and you’re up just high enough on the hill to see the city below.  The palms stand out against the blue sky, and white and pink flowers line the walls.  On further inspection, there’s a Koi pond with a beautiful black swan, how perfect!  As you approach, the swan makes his way speedily over to you- wow, they’ve even trained their swans to come at the sight of visitors, how welcoming!  You move left, the swan moves left; right, he goes right.  You get within range and the head comes through the stone railing at lightening speed and pecks at anything within reach.  The Garden of Eden has an edgy side after all.  I witnessed a few attacks on some surprised guests; this was definitely not the pleasant welcoming party it appeared to be.

Other than the swan, the main attraction at the Palace (for me, anyway) was the beautiful tile work in the garden, in and alongside the main house.  The Room of Battles inside the house is considered the Sistine Chapel of Tilework.  This was originally created as a hunting lodge for a noble, Dom João de Mascarenhas, 1st Marquis of Fronteira.  Check out the pictures below of a place that will blow you away with its beauty.  The scenes on the Portuguese tiles- some of the most famous in the country- depict hunting (fitting for this home), battles and religious events; the statues are Greek Gods, and the busts above the pond are of Portuguese kings.  Aside from the tile museum, this is the most important place to see tile work in all of Lisbon.  The palace sits on the edge of Monsanto Park, a large wooded area with jogging and biking trails overlooking Lisbon. Keep about a foot and a half distance from the railing of the Koi pond, but enjoy the palace.