The charming Spanish 'gardens of Versailles’ | Fascinating Spain (2024)

‘We must cultivate our garden’, concluded the French philosopher Voltaire in his work Candide. No matter the state of the world, we can work on our own environment to make it better, creating our own paradise. This is exactly what the Selgas brothers did. They created the extraordinary architectural and landscape complex of La Quinta, which has a lovely garden that looks particularly gorgeous in the autumn. It sits in the Asturian village of Cudillero. It is so beautiful that people know it as the ‘Spanish Palace of Versailles’.

The park sits in the brothers’ native village, on the coast of Asturias, away from the big artistic centres. It was meant both to serve people and to delight its creators. ‘Delivering culture contributes to the country’ was their motto.

The tiny paradise of the Sengal brothers

The complex was built between the years 1880 and 1895, the work of an exceptional duo composed of the brothers Ezequiel (1828–1909) and Fortunato Selgas (1839–1921), who belonged to a wealthy family in Cudillero.

The oldest brother, Ezequiel, moved to Madrid, where he earned a lot of money in a short time. For this reason, Fortunato, his younger brother, could enjoy an exquisite humanistic education and dedicate his life to the fine arts. Actually, Fortunato is the true creator of the architectural project of La Quinta, designed in a historicist style. However, a friend of his, who was an actual architect, signed for him to grant the building legal force. He also created the first sketch of the garden, which shared the harmony of the eclectic buildings.

With their frequent international trips, in particular to Paris, the Selgas brothers always kept up with the latest architectural and landscape trends. In 1860, Ezequiel began to buy art for their great collection. Nowadays, this collection is shown in the palace of La Quinta in Cudillero, the family’s summer residence, until the death of their last descendant in 1992. After her death, the complex became the property of the Fundación Selgas-fa*galde and remains exactly the same.

La Quinta’s state of preservation is admirable, as is its gardens, whose aspect is extremely accurate to the original sketch. The Fundación Selgas-fa*galde hasn’t included any new elements and dedicates its work towards the conservation of the gardens and, if necessary, replacing plants with others of their same species and types. The gardens of La Quinta could belong in a museum, a treasure from the past.

The other artists that participated in the creation of La Quinta

Two other French planners worked on the design of the layout, besides Fortunato Selgas: Grandpont and Jean Pierre Rigoreau. Like most gardens of this era, the gardens of La Quinta include diverse areas, each of which has its own identity, that preserve French, Italian, and English traditions. They picture the experiences of the brothers on their different journeys abroad.

The gardens of La Quinta of Cudillero

The charming Spanish 'gardens of Versailles’ | Fascinating Spain (1)

La Quinta of Cudillero. | Shutterstock

The large green area spread in front of the southern façade is the first element we should mention. Like a wide green carpet, it is decorated with flowers in the summer. This is le tapis vert, whose horizontality contrasts with the vertical walls of the Camellia japonica at the sides. This creates a monumental frame for the building’s façade, the composition’s vanishing point. Just like the French Baroque model, the space was decorated with sculptures, vases and fountains.

While the French garden is open and dynamic, the Italian garden is a nest of intimacy. Located at the back of the palace, it is delimited by buildings on its four sides. A pond sits in the heart of this garden, whose beautiful architectural elements include stairs, walls, balusters and terraces.

On the eastern side of La Quinta of Cudillero awaits the English garden. This place is characterised by its irregular lines, compositions of exotic trees and large spots of grass. A winding river creates lakes, so water is the main element here. A classical pavilion is the finishing touch to this romantic setting, crowning a groot carved in artificial stone where interesting aquariums are exhibited. To wander around this place is to feel the majesty of the trees, the splendorous inhabitants of the humid and soft weather of this beautiful rainy spot in northern Spain.

You can also read this article in Spanishand French.

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The charming Spanish 'gardens of Versailles’ | Fascinating Spain (2024)

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You can make the most of your trip and experience the best of Spain in 10 days. Of course, Spain has much more to offer, including other beautiful cities like Valencia, Bilbao, and Toledo, as well as the picturesque island of Ibiza, the stunning Pyrenees mountains, and the famous wine region of Rioja.

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Royal Botanical Gardens in Madrid

This is the case of the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid, very near attractions as iconic as the Prado Museum and the Puerta de Alcalá. With more than 5,500 plant species from America, the Pacific and Europe, this is an ideal visit if you love botanical science.

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The best time to visit Spain is in late spring (April to May) or early autumn (September to October), due to the pleasant temperatures and lighter crowds. However, the country's diverse offerings mean you can find something to enjoy at any time of year.

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Spain is a vast and diverse country. Though 1 week in Spain will only give you an overview of everything the country has to offer, rapid trains and a comprehensive network make it easy to get around.

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Spanish employees are entitled to a legal minimum of 30 calendar days (which is 22 or 23 working days) of paid annual leave per year. This quota applies to full-time employees. There may be additional rights or more vacation days available to certain employees covered by collective bargaining agreements.

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On average, a budget traveler's cost of visiting Spain for a week is $889. If you're on an ultra-budget, you can get by in Spain for a week with $650 on average. The average cost of a one-week mid-range trip is $1,200, while a luxury Spain trip starts from $2,500 on average.

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