Prague, Czech Republic
A hot-pink confection of Bohemian Neo-Renaissance style, the Hotel Opera stands in the less touristy Nové Město, or “New Town,” quarter of storied Prague.
Striding through the sprawling gardens and grand halls of this pink palace, you’d be hard-pressed to believe that this place was in ruins only a decade ago. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves… The story begins in the 19th century, with a father, a son, and a dream of building a Portuguese paradise.
Construction kicked off in 1840, but progress came in spurts, and the original owner slowly realized that the villa was doomed. By 1893, the unfinished palace was abandoned, seemingly destined to never see its grand vision come to fruition.
But then came José Francisco da Silva, the son of a farmer and a lifetime resident of the region. He worked his way up through local businesses, eventually becoming a wealthy landowner. In the Palacio de Estoi, he saw not dilapidation, but a dream unrealized. By the turn of the century, he picked up the tab, pouring his fortune into the palace until it was finally completed and unveiled in 1909.
For his efforts, da Silva was honored with a royal title, thereafter known as the Viscount of Estoi. The palace remained in the da Silva family until the late 1980s, when it sadly fell yet again into disrepair. The grounds were abandoned once again, slowly crumbling for the next two decades.
They say patience is a virtue, though, and this palace may be the most patient of all. The Portuguese Tourist Office saw this diamond in the rough for what it truly was – an opportunity to show the world just what southern Portugal has to offer: beauty, decadence, and delight.
A century after its original opening, the palace reemerged, restored and reimagined as a luxury hotel, where visitors can roam the gardens or lounge at the pool, soaking up a finally realized vision and a dream that began so very long ago…
Written by: Drew Tweedy
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