As much as I love horror movies and horror stories (especially today when all witches and ghouls come out for Halloween), I had a different memory of Tapada das Necessidades — I remembered a lot of green, a lot of quiet, a lot of care.
Well, it’s still green and quiet, but the care? It just depends on from where you are entering. To be honest with you I didn’t even remember there were two entrances: one closer to Alcântara (and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) next to the church at Largo das Necessidades; one closer to Estrela on Rua Borja.
This park has a case of split personality disorder, much like the story by Robert Louis Stevenson of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
The Mr. Hyde
After spending some time admiring how the overweight geese and ducks tried to walk at Jardim da Estrela (seriously people stop feeding them already. I don’t think these animals are meant to eat leftover pastries from the cafe in the garden), we gathered the courage to walk a bit more — a couple of ice cold bottles of water and a few refreshing minutes in the shade was all we needed. Tapada das Necessidades wasn’t really in our plans for the day, but we never walk away from a detour, especially when we are in no hurry to get anywhere. Besides, it’s not more than a ten-minute walk from the Basílica.
I found the streets familiar but we almost over passed the entrance — that open gate to what seemed to be an abandoned garden turned forest wasn’t exactly what I remembered seeing many years ago. Then again your mind plays tricks on you and you see the same thing from different perspectives every time you visit. But we were at the right place, the metal gray plaque on the wall confirmed it.
If this had been half an hour later while the night would start sneaking in, I would have tried to cross the 25 acres of green space a lot faster but I was intrigued. I kept repeating “this is not how I remember it”. The plants just seem to be there, all old trunks twisted, weeds creeping around them — I’m not the best person to address greenery, but I felt like some of them have been dead for quite a while.
For the sake of spooky photography, there are plenty of abandoned buildings around and a decent amount of rusted iron to serve as background. Powered by the smell (and sight) of the stale water of the lakes.
The Dr. Jekyll
The minute we started to see glimpses of the bridge 25th of April in the horizon, I started seeing a familiar patch of bright green grass. That was the Tapada I remembered. It started to transform into something a bit more pleasant and nice to spend time at, people reading, exercising with their dogs, children running around the school playground.
One of the kids ran to the fence and called us. I asked him “do you know there is a ghost up there?” and I pointed to the abandoned house and chicken coops behind the abandoned greenhouse. He said, “Nah I don’t believe in ghosts. Do you want a skull tattoo?” (I miss the time when kids believed in ghost stories…). “No. Keep the tattoo for tomorrow. It’s Halloween.”
This side of the Tapada, the nice side, seems to be in better shape and there are even some wood tables and stools set up for picnics. It’s also near the Ministry of Foreign Affairs so I’d say it makes sense to keep appearances… The state in what things are being left? Shameful. To say the least.
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