Quinta da Arealva, Almada’s Abandoned Winery

The abandoned buildings as seen from the river

photography by: Sonse/ Wikimedia Commons

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Lying on the shores of the mighty Tagus River, 2 kilometers away from downtown Lisbon on the opposite side, Almada is a fascinating place by its own right. Known primarily for its massive replica of Christ the Redeemer, the city also boasts a series of quaint sites along its riverfront. Perhaps the most notable of which is Quinta da Arealva, a former winery that now sits in tatters, teeming with graffiti artists and urban explorers alike.

The longest river throughout the Iberian Peninsula, the Tagus River flows all the way from Montes Universales mountain range in eastern Spain to the Portuguese capital, where its 15 kilometer wide estuary dominates the landscape. Situated on the southern side of the river is Almada, one of Lisbon’s satellite cities that played a major role in the history of the region since the Middle Ages.

 

It was here where a chain of riverside fortifications controlled the movement of ships on their way in or out of the river. Included among them was Forte da Pipa, a strategically significant structure built by the then King of Portugal, Dom Pedro II, during the 1600’s. A century later, though, this fort was deserted and shortly thereafter, replaced by a wine producing complex entitled Quinta da Arealva.

 

Founded by residents from nearby Ginjal, the winery consisted of multiple buildings, including warehouses and a cooperage, where barrels of wine were manufactured in masses. Concurrently, a section of the old fort was converted into the owners’ residence while several vineyards were planted around the premises, making the place a self-sufficient hamlet.

 

In spite of the winery’s lack of accessibility by land, its location along the Tagus River meant that the stockpiles of wine could be easily transported by cargo vessels from the adjacent pier. It was for this reason that Quinta da Arealva came to dominate the national wine market for decades. At one point, Irish nobleman João O’Neill moved into the secluded complex, where he commissioned the construction of a chapel, dedicated to Saint John the Baptist.

 

Somewhere around the late 19th century, the once thriving winery was abandoned, and slowly but steadily fell into a state of disrepair. The complex was then further ravaged by years of vandalism, during which some buildings were even set ablaze. However, this rapid deterioration wasn’t without a silver lining as groups of muralists have been using the decaying walls as their canvases, leaving a trail of street art all over the place.

 

As of today, the derelict structures are covered by a breathtaking hodgepodge of graffiti paintings as if they were a part of an art museum. In recent years, the city council has made several attempts to rejuvenate the ruins. Following a couple of electronic music festivals that took place here, local authorities announced their intention to renovate the buildings and integrate them into a citywide trail.