The past is a constant presence at the Calhariz estate. Here, there is history everywhere, in every place we go to, and in every rock you see. Since pre-historic settlements of the Bronze and Iron Ages, from the Phoenician and Roman times to more recent periods of the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque, there was always a constant occupation of this location, known today as Casa de Calhariz - which has been owned by the same family since 1483.
In order to have a better understanding of the history of Calhariz estate, here is a brief chronology of the main events and the construction of the most important architectural buildings of the property.
5 000 - 3 000 b.C. (Neolithic)
Occupation of the first farming and grazing communities, in the Land of Calhariz, which corresponds to the menhir of Vale da Palha.
2 000 - 800 b.C. (Bronze Age)
Occupation of the Land of Calhariz, during the Bronze Age, with a large piece of land, to which corresponds the funerary monument or dolmen of Roça do Casal do Meio.
700 b.C. - 200 b.C (Iron Age)
Arrival of sailors of Eastern Mediterranean, with traces of a sanctuary at Lapa da Cova.
100 b.C.- 500 a.C. (Roman Period)
Roman farming in the Land of Calhariz, with existing remains of a house at Vale da Palha.
D. Gil Vaz da Cunha bought the land of Calhariz from the heirs of master Joane, nobleman of the House of the Duke of Beja (brother of the king), for “two lives”. A large house already existed, but it suffered some changes throughout the 16th century.
On May 4th, King D. Manuel I granted the estate for another “four lives”, and on July 14th of that same year, Lady Maria da Silva (daughter and heiress of D. Gil Vaz da Cunha) established the Entail of Calhariz.
Beginning of the 16th century
Construction of the first chapel of Calhariz, with a circular floor plan (today used as museum where you will find “A Arrábida, a Quinta de Calhariz e a Casa Palmela” exhibition).
The architect João Rodrigues Mouro, who built most of the forts on the Arrábida’s coast, on 1653-54, makes the project of a three floor hydraulic mill at Rio do Olho.
The estate manor house, which dates back to the 15th century, underwent deep transformations, at the time of of D. Francisco de Souza (1630-1711), and it was at this same time when the present chapel was built, incorporated as part of the house. The works were financed by his brother, D. João de Souza, and by his nephew, D. Luís de Souza. Pope Innocent XI grants D. Luís de Souza the official avail for use of the chapel, which was dedicated to St. Francis. The garden also dates from this period.
D. Pedro de Souza e Holstein, ordered Canova the funerary stela for his father, who is buried at “Sant'Antonio dei Portoghesi”’s church in Rome.
D. Pedro de Souza e Holstein dies in Lisbon. As a tribute, his children raised a tholos in the forest next to the buxus gardens, which is said to have been designed by architect Giuseppe Cinátti.
Writer Alexandre Herculano took up residence at Casa de Calhariz, which he rented from D. Domingos de Souza e Holstein, dedicating himself to the productions of beets, olive oil, wool, rice and silk.
Queen Elizabeth II of England came for lunch at Calhariz.
Princess Margaret, sister of Queen Elizabeth II visited the estate.
The Casa de Calhariz is presently involved in several projects varying from forestry to tourism, including vineyards, livestock, agriculture and environmental, equestrian and cultural tourism.