Secret Gardens: Serralves Foundation, Porto

Discover the outdoor wonders of Serralves Foundation, one of Portugal's most loved contemporary art museums

Today (20th April) is the birthday of renowned artist Joan Miró (1893 – 1983), whose artwork is currently exhibited in Joan Miró: signs and figurations at Fundação Serralves in Porto, Portugal.

As a popular destination for lovers of contemporary art, cinema and nature, the Serralves Foundation is one of the top 100 most visited museums in the world. Its grand estate includes a striking pink art deco villa and formal gardens, as well as a sculpture park with trail of artworks on permanent display. The Serralves Park really is the foundation’s crown jewel, spanning across 18 hectares of land and home to over 200 tree and shrub species, including both native and non-native exotic plants.

Joan Miró: signs and figurations

If you're a fan of art, then this exhibition is a must-see during your visit to Porto. On display is a vast collection of 85 paintings, sculptures, and drawings from across six decades of his career, showcasing the Catalan artist's unique style and approach to the surrealist movement.

Inside the Art Deco villa of serralves foundation in porto

Above: inside the Serralves Villa

Visitors can gain a fascinating insight into Miro's creative process and his use of the vibrant colours, bold shapes, and organic forms which are such distinctive characteristics of his work. Whether you're an avid art enthusiast or simply looking for a cultural day out, the works on display are sure to leave a lasting impression.

Upstairs view of serralves villa in porto

Above: the villa's Art Deco interior

With a pastel pink façade, the villa itself is a striking attraction for architecture and history lovers. Built in the 1930s, the villa is considered one of the most prominent examples of Art Deco architecture in Portugal, designed by leading architects and designers of the time, including Marques da Silva, Charles Siclis, and René Lalique.

The pastel pink facade of the Serralves Villa's exterior architecture

Above: the pastel pink villa exterior

Exploring Serralves Park

Designed by the renowned architect Jacques Greber in the 1930s, the park is a true masterpiece that showcases Portugal's rich landscape heritage. The park offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in nature and appreciate the diverse range of trees and shrubs, with roughly 200 different species on display.

Some rare species to look out for are the yew trees (Taxus baccata) which have an extinction risk in Portugal. The tall oak trees (Quercus robur) and Stone pine (Pinus pinea) are characteristic examples of Portuguese flora.

A view through the tree canopy at Serralves foundation, walking along the treetop walk

Above: the luscious tree canopy within the park 

Get a tree’s perspective along the Treetop Walkway

High above the park floats the Treetop Walkway, a modern architectural construction that provides visitors with a unique perspective of the park's lush canopy. Built in 2019 during Serralves’ 30th anniversary year, the walkway was constructed from sustainably sourced wood, designed to blend seamlessly with its natural surroundings.

the wooden deck of the treetop walk, which leads visitors around the tree canopy in Serralves park

Above: walking along the Treetop Walkway

As visitors move along the walkway, they can admire the stunning views of the park's magnificent trees, some of which are over a century old. The walkway also offers a rare opportunity to learn about the different tree species and their ecological importance to the park's ecosystem. The walkway's design and location offer a perfect balance of adventure and education, making it a fantastic attraction for nature enthusiasts of all ages.

The treetop walkway in serralves park as seen from below

Above: the Treetop Walkway as seen from the ground below

Sculptures in the Park

As well as hosting a herb garden, impressive arboretum, and a camellia garden, the park is also a sculpture park! There is a display of 12 artworks from the Serralves Collection permanently on display outdoors throughout the park for visitors to tour.

Artists exhibited include Richard Serra, Anish Kapoor, and Francisco Tropa.

Sculpture by Anish Kapoor in Serralves Foundation, Porto

Above: Sky Mirror [Espelho do Ceu] by Anish Kapoor, 2018

Visitors can walk around Sky Mirror (above) and see the world and the environment around them distorted through its giant convex mirror surface.

Plantoir sculpture by Claes Oldenburg

Above: Plantoir [Colher de Jardineiro] by Claes Oldenburg & Coosje Van Bruggen, 2001

A visit to the park is a perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and take in the peaceful atmosphere of this magnificent space. Whether you're a seasoned gardener or someone who appreciates the beauty of the outdoors, a visit to the Serralves Park is an experience that should not be missed.

The farm at Serralves park

Above: the gardens in Serralves grow wildflowers, as well as vegetable produce

How to get to The Serralves Foundation

Fundação Serralves, R. Dom João de Castro 210, 4150-417 Porto, Portugal

Travel: The bus 201 from near Trindade station takes approximately 30 minutes to Serralves, and from there the park can be reached after a 10 minute walk. Tickets can be purchased on the bus for around €2, or you can buy a rechargeable card from any metro station and top up on a ticket machine.

Entry: General tickets for entry to the museum, park, house of cinema, treetop walk, and the villa start from €20, with different tiers available for partial entry. You can purchase tickets at the museum or pre-book online. Concessions available for tourists with a Porto-Card.

Opening times: Monday-Sunday from 10am to varied closing times throughout the year.

The Joan Miró: signs and figurations exhibition runs until 1st May 2023.

Visit the Serralves website for up to date visiting information and news on future events at the gallery.