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
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”
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
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.