HIDDEN AWAY from the busy centres of Estoril and Cascais is the Museu da Musica Portuguesa – Casa Verdades de Faria. Formerly known as St Patrick’s Tower, a homage to the Irish patron saint, it was built by Jorge O’Neill in 1918.
Jorge O’Neill, born in Lisbon in 1848, was a descendant of the Irish Royal Family – King of Ulster, Prince of Tyrone and Clannaboy and Count of Tyrone. He was well-known in the Portuguese financial circles and received awards of Grand Officer of various orders and the Night of Honour of the Order of Malta.
O’Neill bought the land in Monte Estoril and together with architect Raul Lino set out building the tower. After adding to the original design including the construction of a two-storey cloister the house resembled a small palace.
Tiles depicting scenes of hunting and the life of St Anthony collected from various palaces and chapels around the country can be seen throughout the house. The stone used in the construction is typical of this area and local artisans were hired to work on the various structures, including woven designed pillars and doorways. In the centre, before the stone staircase leading to the garden, is the two-storey cloister with a fountain. A narrow staircase leads to the top of the tower where you can get spectacular views of Estoril and Cascais, the sea and the Sintra hills. The grounds, rich with trees and shrubs to the north and a romantic-style garden to the south occupy an area of about 12,000sqm. There are winding and interconnecting paths on the slopes and for relaxation tiled benches. Just below the entrance is a small pond.
In the mid-twentieth century the house was bought by Enrique Mantero Belard of Spanish descent. His wife, Gertrudes Verdades de Faria, was a great collector and supporter of the cultural arts and it was through her influence that her husband became interested in the arts. In his will Belard left the house to the Cascais Town Council with the specification that it be used as a museum and the gardens be opened to the public and with the name of Verdades de Faria in honour of his wife.
The property houses the Museum of Regional Portuguese Music which has a collection of traditional musical instruments, books, recordings and documents. The town Council acquired the collection of instruments from Michel Giacommeti, the ethno-musicologist, in 1981, and later his library was added to the collection.
In 1994 in his will the Portuguese composer Fernando Lopes Graça also left his estate to the Cascais Town Council. The collection comprises various documents, books, photographs, records and his pianos.
The Museum is open to visitors. Music concerts and talks are held throughout the year. Located at Av. Sabóia, No. 1146, Monte Estoril. Tel: +351-21-4815901- Open: Tues-Sun: 10am – 5pm.
Updated April 2023