The Varied Architecture of Monte Estoril

A walk through our neighborhood…

With the stay-at-home order in place and no way to explore beyond our neighborhood, we are taking daily walks to get a little fresh air, a bit of exercise, and force a break from watching the news nonstop. Due to the age of our town, it’s hilly topography, and the way it has evolved over time, we find something new to see nearly every time we go out. There is no better way to get to know the streets than to walk them anyway, so off we go.

Monte Estoril originated at the beginning of the 20th century as a result of the railways that connected the city of Lisbon to the village of Cascais. In 1910, when the Portuguese Republic was established, Monte Estoril was already a place of choice for the aristocracy due to its privileged location and beautiful landscapes. During the Second World War it became a refuge for political exiles and a preferred location for many members of European royalty. Its architecture reflects this history.  

What I find fascinating and fun is seeing the vast spectrum of architecture in such a small place. The diversity is what makes it stimulating. Some buildings haven’t been kept up as well as they should have been, some have been restored to their former glory, some are in the process of being brought back. Some buildings are new and very contemporary, some used to be considered contemporary but still need a few decades to be truly appreciated…if ever. They are all jumbled together in a willy-nilly fashion that makes taking a walk so enjoyable. Come take a stroll with me through my neighborhood.

Note: If you have a laptop or tablet available, I suggest clicking on each image to enlarge them in order to truly appreciate the details.

Let’s start by looking at the ground. Portugal is known for the beauty and creativity of it’s public pavements. It consists of small flat pieces of stones arranged in a pattern or image, similar to a mosaic. Craftsmen break each piece and lay it by hand, and then set them with sand or cement, depending on where it is. Sweet Pea HATES walking on it. I can only assume because she can feel the edges of the stones on her delicate paws. She prefers to walk along the top of the curb which is smooth and made of cement. If she walks on the stone pavement for more than a few minutes, she’ll simply stop and won’t go forward. This means taking her for a walk is a pain in the pah-tooski since this pavement is everywhere. No matter, we get her out and encourage her along. I’ve grabbed a few images from the internet to show you some of the many beautiful patterns you might see. I’m sure you’ll agree its beautiful, but don’t wear high heels…

Now looking up, the thing I am most struck by are the colors of the buildings; they range from bright white and off white to rosy pink, peach, and yellow to mint green and soft blue to light gray and in some cases deep rust. Here a few images I took to give you a flavor of the variety.

The other thing I love are the many decorative elements like the roof lines, interesting columns, colorful tiles, creative stone work, and beautiful ornamental painting. This one is a beauty!

Sigh…and then there are unfortunate buildings that make your eyes bleed…

Some have spectacular views that we can only catch a glimpse of…

Others look like they came straight out of a fairy tale.

There is new construction reflecting a more contemporary and modern aesthetic…

…as well as buildings being renovated to, hopefully, bring them back their former glory.

Unfortunately, this one might have waited too long?

There are small, sweet, intimate homes…

…and huge homes! This one took up an entire block!

The gates, perimeter walls, and doors are charming as well…

Even the street signs are lovely. Each one is made up of multiple hand-painted tiles. They can be found typically affixed to a wall or on a stand-alone pillar of some kind. They are pretty large (about 16 sq in or 41 sq cm), but surprisingly they are not very easy to see when you are driving because there is no standardized place to find them and sometimes there aren’t any at all. But I think they are very pretty and colorful.

I hope you have enjoyed this stroll through our neighborhood. We continue to be surprised, delighted and happy as we discover more about where we live. We can’t wait to keep exploring beyond our neighborhood and when we do, I promise to share it with you.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and most of all, stay in touch!

From Portugal with love,


Published by Beth Thomas-Kim

After working in corporate America for companies like Mattel, Nestlé, and Johnson & Johnson, I retired and moved to Portugal in January of 2020 with my husband Won and our 12-year old wire fox terrier, Sweet Pea. We now live in Monte Estoril, a lovely seaside town just outside Lisbon. We spend our days happily exploring this beautiful country and learning about its fascinating history, engaging culture, warm and welcoming people, delicious food and wine, and stunning architecture. This blog was started primarily as a way to keep family and friends updated on our transition from the US to Portugal. Now, my subscribers include people from all over the world. Enjoy!

10 thoughts on “The Varied Architecture of Monte Estoril

  1. When Chris and I went to Portugal a few years ago, we saw the same thing. Gorgeous buildings literally crumbling into dust and wondered why no one was fixing them up. It turns out that Portuguese law requires property to be divided equally among heirs. So each generation that passes means the ownership keeps getting further and further divided. In Porto which is a World Heritage Site, all buildings must be restored to their original condition which costs a fortune and people aren’t willing to contribute to restoring a building they own a 1/50th share. It’s so disheartening to see block after block of facades that are empty when you look through the boarded up windows.


  2. I am amazed at the wealth of information you have absorbed in such a short time. Your narratives and photos are so complimentary of each other. I look forward to each and every chapter of your discoveries. It is great that you are able to get out and enjoy your activity during the self quarantine.
    Take good care and be safe. Love, Aunt Dianna


  3. Thanks for sharing Beth! It’s the closest many of us will get to seeing the rest of the world for a little while so truly appreciate feeling like we are almost there :).


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