A Quinta dos Ciprestes
The construction of Casa dos Ciprestes (House of the Cypresses) remounts to 1594, as you can find engraved in the lintel of the gate, with the weapons of the founder Gonçalo de Morais above it.
The ecclesiastical hat above the shield means that Gonçalo de Morais was Abbot of Santa Valha, having received the sacrament of the Order after widowing.
He was the son of Francisco de Morais “The Palmeirim”, author of the known cavalry romance of the XVI century “The Palmeirim of England”, and grandson of Sebastião de Morais Valcacer, that was the Bursar of the Royal House and later bursar of the Kingdom during the reign of D. João III.
In its time, it was instituted the bond of the first-born son for the transmission of the ownership of the property, that was to be designated as “Santo António dos Aciprestes”. His son Jerónimo de Morais was the first-born son, having always maintained the transmission of the bond of the ownership until the extinction of this rule of legacy to first-born sons, in the second half of the XIX century.
The last first-born son was António de Morais Sarmento, the General of Brigade, Commander and Governor of the Municipal Guard in the City of Oporto, where he deceased around 1930.
With more than four centuries of existence, the House of Cypresses has remained in the same family, still belonging to the descendants of the founder Gonçalo de Morais.
The Chapel, established in 1617, is placed in a parallel higher plan in relation to the house. Exteriorly, it presents a sober aspect but the Altar is finely decorated with a beautifully carved gold cut. In it, are buried the founder Jerónimo de Morais and several of its descendants.
Situated in the south limit of the old population of Valha Saint, Municipality of Valpaços, the House of the Cypresses and the surrounding lands and public parks constitutes a space of great quality in a full and pleasant conviviality with the nature.
The house is situated half-hill, in the South limit of the population, surrounded by fields that belong to the property, therefore assuring an enviable privacy without damage of an easy contact with the population of the village, contrasting in the whiteness of its towed façade; with the dark green of the pine trees of mount “Crasto”, that arise in the south.
Its configuration has a disposal in U with the lateral façade (main) opened for the old way of Fornos do Pinhal through eight windows protected by thick massive chestnut shutters, contemporaries to the foundation of the house.
The forged chained verandas placed later by a Galician craftsman, have enrolled the date and the name of the constructor, as well as the one of the first-born son who ordered the work.
The gate, opened in a high wall that draws out the alignment of the house, leads directly to a large open terrain.
To the left, a well launched staircase takes to entrance porch and a great room with chestnut wooden bars that is follows by two others rooms with ceilings of wood carved “boxes” - one of them, later painted – having the last one a veranda over the Chapel.
Perpendicularly to this set, that constitutes the noblest and oldest part of the house, another structural body is formed leading to the same open terrain, formed by the supper room, with capacity to seat 16 people on the length, the ample kitchen, totally equipped, with its fireplace where formerly and using traditional techniques and a selective smoke aging process, one smoked Ham and Sausages. Attached to this room, but without interior communication, is the house of the Caretakers, and below the Olive Oil and Wine cellars.
The third body corresponds to the rooms that, given the unevenness of the land are at the level of the ground in relation to the exterior, with a very pleasant exposition the very pleasant towards west, sided by seedbeds of flowers and lawns and with louver shutter windows. One further note, to refer that the entrance porch mentioned above also has access to a wide covered veranda that communicates with the supper room and where, on good weather, a very agreeable small-lunch can be served.
Between this alignment and parallel to sleeping rooms, there are three more ancient rooms; there are still two outdoor verandas, typically of the Trás-os-Montes region, turned to the south. One of these verandas, situated in the superior floor, is opened and was primitively destined to the drought of maize and diverse fruits.
The Farm, in the past with 70 ha of area, has currently more reduced dimensions due to the amputation of almost all the agricultural areas. Even so, some traditional cultures remain, such as Olive Trees that produce a small amount of oil of excellent quality and Vinery in hillside, from whose grapes one obtains a small but excellent Wine production, traditionally produced in the Wine Cellars still existing and modernised.
Towards south and west of the landscaped spaces around the house, a pine tree plantation extends in direction to the hillsides and tops of the neighbouring hills.
Between these hills one stresses the Crasto mount, previously referred, in whose top we can still recognize some vestiges of Castro villages (small village from the Bronze Age, typical in the Iberia Peninsula), and some writings in the stone. In this place a currency of emperor Pious Antonino (138-168 DC) was found.
In the surroundings one can find granite rocks of amazing size and form, representing marks attributed to the pre-roman period.
In the same alignment of the house, following the Chapel, limiting the way of the right side, a wall of rock with two meters of height creates a flat terrain that levels the land to all the width of the house, in an extension of some tens of meters. This lawned flat terrain had formerly a line of cypresses that gave the name to the Farm. It remains only one, a beautiful unit of majestical height.
Parallel to the wall, an alee of great Box trees more than centenarians, the “stroll of the Box trees”, is drawn out since the door of the kitchen throughout the flat terrain, leading to a washing tank and to a sink fed with current water, creating a bucolic and evocative place.
All these public parks, exterior to the house, provide a varied choice of little pleasures, from meals served outdoors (in two great metallic tables with a glass cover to be used placed in the sun or in agreeable shade, whatever suits better) up to naps or to conviviality in the summer nights in the beautifully illuminated gardens.
Of the other side of the “Stroll of the Box trees”, there is a small Football Five (lawned field), followed in a superior plan, by a pleasant swimming pool also provided with natural and artificial shades and beach chairs, that benefits from an ample sight over the village of Santa Valha and the neighbouring fields, with the mountains drawing towards North and Sun rising as in a Landscape Painting.