Founded in 1970, the Fundação Casa de Mateus is a beautiful baroque manor house built in the 18th century (which has always been a farmhouse), designed by the incredible Nicolau Nasoni. Its foundation is based on culture, heritage, and nature, but besides these three basilic pillars, it is also umbilically linked to the creation of the Douro Demarcated Region (in 1756), in which the vine and wine are also essential matrices. In addition, there is also the part of conservation and opening of the Museum and the outdoor spaces to the public, the management and public availability of its multi-centenary Archive and the agricultural activity that still exists today. Mateus also undertakes a permanent program in the fields of arts, culture, pedagogy, and innovation.
But what are the present and future projects of this winner? Let's find out!
Its Fantastic Cultural Events
According to José Luis Ferreira, responsible for the Arts and Culture, some of the pillars of Mateus have high importance and impact on the foundation. The music and literature are considered as spectacular pretexts for international programs such as the International Music Meetings, whose last edition took place in August of last year (despite the pandemic context). The Living Poetry Translation Seminars or the countless international residencies of artists also add life to the House. Curiously, the last seminar was held by the famous Joseph Hel Ensemble in October and gave rise to the absolute premiere of a new concert. Moreover, in partnership with the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro and other partners, researchers, and entrepreneurs, the Foundation has designed projects such as the Innovation Mini-School, which held its third edition in 2020, and that will be carried out throughout this year, which brings contemporary thought to a peripheral Region, affirming knowledge and sensitivity as fundamental axes for a global vision of the world and its challenges. The result is constant programming that gives a contemporary meaning to the history that surrounds us, the final destination of all time travel: what is to come. In addition, for this year – a year still troubled by the pandemic -, the basis of the cultural program is the Palavras Cruzadas network programming project, carried out in conjunction with three theatres of the Region and which will bring Mateus a dense programme in the areas of music, dance, and theatre.
Its Relation with the Wine Tourism
The fantastic Winery of this house, whose original construction dates back to the 16th century, is still in full activity today. The process of the winery consists of receiving grapes from old vineyards, which are considered real living fossils, whose memory has spectacular practices, and others recently seeded according to principles of sustainability and balance. Also, the wine store is responsible for arranging the wine tasting that serve thousands of visitors each year. The wine tasting 7consists of different wines, unique in their character, which are the result of the terroir uniqueness and of the culture and vinification practices that cross crucial ancestral and contemporary knowledge. Further, Mateus is perfectly located in a Region where Port Wine is the main protagonist. After all, the Mateus vineyards are located in the Upper Douro, whose particularity consists in the production of high-quality white wines. Besides, the red wines of the Alvarelhão come from the oldest vineyard of this variety. It is from this variety of grapes that one of the most renowned national and international rosés was born.
The Museum and the Importance of Baroque Architecture
Since 1961, the Casa de Mateus has also been promoted as a fantastic Museum to visit. While visiting, you will feel that you have entered a time machine that will offer an incredibly unique look at the History of Portugal, Europe, and the World. After all, you will revisit the history of fourteen generations of the same family, and you will have eight spectacular rooms to visit. Through the Noble Hall to the Library, or the Religious Museum, you will find signs of this family public life, but also through the Dining Room, the living rooms, among other spaces, you will have a glimpse of what private life was like in a baroque palace. Plus, planned for this year, Mateus will have a workshop which goal is to explore the museum and its exhibitions, addressing issues such as curatorship and maintenance of the pieces.
Moreover, baroque architecture has a huge impact on this Foundation, both in its visual and scenographic festivity. Besides, it unites and complements the heritage and the landscape that surrounds it. This is possible to identify in its beautiful gardens that are connected with ornamental areas, which extend until the vineyards, creating a complex ecosystem (which by the way is composed of thirty-five hectares) that are entirely managed with respect for natural rhythms and conditions of sustainability and environmental responsibility. Furthermore, in the south area, it is being currently projected a fantastic Vine Museum. This place will be launched as a centre of interpretation of the terroir, of the history of the vine and wine production of the region, and as a space of contact with the enormous varieties of grapes that produce the richness of the wines produced here.
Text by Wine Tourism Portugal
Photos by Fundação Casa de Mateus