Pedras Salgadas Park

Bornes de Aguiar, Portugal | C.1879

Photo Credit: Teresa Freitas

Located in the inner northern forests of Portugal, this park with healing waters has played host over the years to various royals, patricians, and illegal card games. Founded as a spot for rejuvenation, it soon became known as the place to host the most excellent cocktail party. 

Fresh off of the 1873 World’s Fair in Austria, where the medicinal powers of spring waters were heavily advertised, petitions were sent to the Portuguese government advocating for the opening of a thermal spa at Pedras Salgadas. The area’s springs had long been known to locals, and under the direction of Dr. Henrique Manuel Ferreira Botelho, a luxurious spa was opened in 1879 for the whole Portuguese public. With royal visits from King Ferdinand II and Carlos I in its early years, along with a quickly constructed railroad connection to Portugal’s urban centers, the spa resort at Pedras Salgadas quickly became a prime location for aristocratic leisure. 

In 1910, a bet by spa officials was made on betting. Constructing a spa casino with an exquisite tiled roof and large ballroom, this structure was built just as Parliament was debating whether gambling would be legalized in resort areas. Due to excessive quarreling and moral concerns, the legislation never passed, but that didn’t stop the rolling of the dice to continue at Pedras Salgadas. 

In 2013, the casino building was refurbished back to its original state when more was flowing than just the medicinal waters of the resort’s springs. Able to host balls, weddings, and conferences, poker tournaments are currently off the menu.

Written By: Seamus McMahon

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