The forest created by the order of Carmelite monks who settled here in 1628 has been maintained through the ages. Such was the beauty of the preserve that a papal bull, issued in 1643, threatened excommunication to anyone who destroyed one of its trees. Though the monastery was abolished in 1834, the forest survived. Filled with natural spring waters, the earth bubbles with many cool fountains, the best known of which is Fonte Fria (cold fountain).

The Buçaco forest was the battleground where Wellington defeated the Napoleonic legions under Marshal André Massena. The Iron Duke slept in a simple cloister cell after the battle. A small Museu Militar do Buçaco (Museum of the Peninsular War), less than 1km (3/4 mile) from the Bussaco Palace Hotel (tel. 23/193-93-10), reconstructs much of the drama of this turning point in the Napoleonic invasion of Iberia. The small museum collection consists of engravings, plus a few guns. It's open Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 12:30pm and 2 to 5pm, and from 10am to 4pm in the off-season. Admission is 1€.

In the early 20th century, a great deal of the Carmelite monastery was torn down to make way for the royal hunting lodge and palace of Carlos I and his wife, Amélia. He hardly had time to enjoy it before he was assassinated in 1908. The Italian architect Luigi Manini masterminded the neo-Manueline structure of parapets, buttresses, armillary spheres, galleries with flamboyant arches, towers, and turrets. After the fall of the Braganças and the transformation of the palace into a hotel, wealthy tourists took their afternoon tea by the pools underneath the trellis hung with blossoming wisteria.

One of the best ways to savor Buçaco is to drive the 550m (1,804 ft.) up to Cruz Alta (high cross), through the forests and past hermitages. The view from the summit is among the best in Portugal. Take Carretera Nacional No. 1 to get to the top.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.