From our hotel in Obidos it was little more than 20 minutes in the Van to the Buddha Eden Gardens on the Quinta dos Loridos estate outside Bombarral. The Gardens were recommended to us as a place to see and it, truly, is worth a visit although; you need a full day to do the place justice.
The Quinta dos Loridos estate of almost 100 hectares is owned by the Bacalhoa Wine Company. In 2001, in response to the Taliban’s destruction of the giant Bamyan Buddhas in Afghanistan, Jose Berardo (principal share holder of the Bacalhoa Wine Company) set aside some 35 hectares of the estate on which to develop the Buddha Eden Gardens. This programme has seen 6,000 tons of marble and granite Buddhas (and various other Asian and African inspired sculptures) installed within a most beautiful park of landscaped fields and gardens, complete with lakes, streams and fountains.
There are literally hundreds of Buddhas of various shapes and sizes scattered across the gardens, the most impressive of which are the 21 Golden Buddhas located on and around the central staircase.
There are also some 600+ brightly coloured terracotta warriors, replicas of the terracotta army buried in China some 2,200 years ago by the Emperor Qin Shi Huang. To be honest, they look somewhat incongruous.
There’s a great deal more to the gardens than the Buddhas and terracotta soldiers. There are sculptures to suit just about every imaginable taste: a contemporary art section, an animal section, a section devoted to African sculpture artists, etc. Most intriguing are the African sculptures arranged amongst a small forest of palm trees (these are dedicated to the Shona people of Zimbabwe who have carved stone by hand for over a thousand years) but my favourites are to be found within the animal section.
A quite unique place to spend a day