Like many other old buildings and Manor Houses in the region of “Entre Douro e Minho”, the Paço de S. Cipriano must have had its most remote origins in the famous “Roman villas”.

It was on the 22nd July, 1415 that, after a transcription of the oldest existing document, the Family took possession of the House.

We are anxiously looking forward to 2015 to commemorate 6 centuries!

Originally, the House was most certainly small-sized, as it was normal at the time, but has developed and altered in the course of time. A primitive part, that still exists, was kept untouched, which didn´t happen in other similar cases, principally in the 18th century, when the initial architecture was often replaced by a more elaborate one.

From those remote days still exists, in the architectonic set, a part of the alley where the “Old Kitchen” is inserted.

In the 18th century the Master of the House was Domingos Gonçalves Cibrão ( 1704-1798 ), who, being a skilled administrator, has considerably enlarged the properties and made important changes in the house, completely rebuilding the beautiful Chapel of St. Antonio.
At the end of the 18th century, the Cibrão Family and the Santiagos became very close because the Heiress got married to João Santiago.
By the end of the 9th century, the eldest heir, the “ Morgado “ of the House, according to the designation then given in Portugal, due to unpredictable finantial difficulties, was forced to sell the House to Dr. João Santiago de Carvalho e Sousa, who, in his turn ,decided to undertake a new and deep rehabilitation of the House.

This Master of the House, whose professional area was Law, was said to be a remarkable personality in several aspects . He considered himself to be “ the last romantic of his generation “ , showing his artistic bent by drawing , poetry and some precious architectonic works he was personally responsible of , but , above all , by his family life – he was married to Lady Maria Carolina de Magalhães, whose parents were against the marriage . Nevertheless, their love lasted forever, as we can confirm in existing documents.

Dr. João Santiago conceived and accomplished the most important alterations in the main building and in the surrounding grounds, thus conferring the property the amazing present configuration .
He has eliminated the less elegant details, which were indeed not more than the result of ephemeral architectural fashions. He made the two side alleys of the House longer, thus giving the building the attractive architectonic U shape we can see nowadays. The beautiful ascetic Tower emerges as its principal element and central courtyard breaths a charming welcoming atmosphere, its fountain being a perfect relic.
Dom João Santiago has also organized the grounds around the House and transformed the Garden in front of it, making behind a gracious orchard and a fertile kitchen-garden .For most visitors the emblematic portion is indeed the beautiful Garden.

The property exhibits, then, different styles and the marks of several generations, which, harmonically, give the House its charming character, a romantic heart and and also artistic value, according to the “spirit” of the Families that have dwelt in it. If you are looking for the real pulse of remote times you just might enjoy yourself here, as the House, the Garden and the parkland and the mature woods hold a magnetic attraction for most visitors.

Dom João d´Almeida Santiago de Sottomayor, the latest “Morgado’s” grand, grand child, by his paternal Grandmother´ s side, inherited the “Paço de S. Cipriano” in 1955.

The present social and economic instability make it difficult nowadays to maintain and preserve such a big property. That´s why some of those rare and fine mansions were unfortunately brought to ruin. What sometimes happens in these cases is that the state of mind of the host families is tremendously negative, the situation appearing as tragically inevitable and irreversible , which may cause disgrace and the consequent loss of estate and traditions . When they took possession of the House, the present owners immediately began implementing the possible solutions .

The most effective step was made in 1982, when they joined the national touristic project for The Portuguese Manor Houses (Casas Senhoriais). The “Paço de S. Cipriano”, together with other five Houses, opened their doors to this new way of making Tourism in Portugal For the Family it was a daring project , not exempt from a certain feeling of comprehensible insecurity.

The part of the House where the guests would stay was restored, and soon a lot of people from all parts of the world began to come, for the sincere satisfaction of the host family.
From the beginning it was possible to establish a hospitable relationship and to enjoy the pleasure of sharing experiences in long talks during pleasant tours through the estate. Some of the guests write nice letters and others come back again, years later, because of the links of friendliness and comprehension that have been established. The old spirit of the “Albergaria” ( Pilgrims’ Inn ), that existed in the House, has been exchanged in a new way of receiving the travellers, better adapted to the new modern times and conditions.

Dom João d´Almeida Santiago de Sottomayor and his wife Dona Maria Teresa de Morais Pimentel Seara Cardoso are the present landlords of the “Paço de S. Cipriano”. They have got four children and five grandchildren.








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