HISTORY

A GARDEN WITH MEMORY


With 14 hectares of nature, this open-air space nestled in the Baix Camp Tarragonés, between Cambrils and Montbrió del Camp, is one of the best examples of romantic gardening in Spain. It was built as a summer residence for the Samà Indian family, marquises of Marianao.

Protected as an Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC) in the Historical Garden category, Parc Samà belongs to the European Itinerary of Historical Gardens. It is also part of the Botanical Gardens Climate Change Alliance and the Spanish Network of the United Nations Global Compact, in this way it is committed to integrating its principles into the park’s action plan and getting involved in cooperative projects that will contribute to the achievement of the SDGs, Sustainable Development Goals.

The architectural complex includes a mansion, a lake with hanging bridges and gardens conceived in full romanticism, a way of seeing the world where feelings take precedence over reason. Romantic gardens were designed with the premise of breaking with the rigidity and structure of the French garden and returning to nature, showing an often excessive desire for the wild and the exotic.

The park offers different spaces where you can admire and interact with lush vegetation and a continually growing zoological collection: fallow deer, peacocks, macaws, pheasants , ducks, turtles, hedgehogs, etc. A space with different facilities that wants to serve as a source of inspiration, learning and a place for positive social change. Get to know Parc Samà in depth, promoted by Salvador Samà i Torrents and designed by José Fontserè i Mestres, based on five dimensions:

THE COLONIAL LEGACY
OF A
MARQUISATE

THE ROMANTICISM OF A HISTORICAL GARDEN

TRIBUTE TO THE BIRDS OF CENTRAL AMERICA

MODERNISM OR THE LOYALTY
OF ART TO NATURE

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A
GARDEN
WITH
MEMORY

THE COLONIAL LEGACY OF A MARQUISATE


Parc Samà is a round trip, of emigration and return. Make the Americas. Return and leave the legacy. Other trees, other birds, other costumes and colors, other arts… Adventure, culture and wealth.

Park Samà is the history of the Marquesado de Marianao. Samà is synonymous with Indian family, America, fortune and return. Conservative in politics and protectionist in business, they acted as patrons and promoted the economic, social and cultural renaissance of their host city. Their committed character was reflected in the different public positions they held. Salvador Samà i Martí, first Marquess of Marianao, was Alderman of Havana and Senator of the Kingdom in Cuba.

SALVADOR SAMÀ AND TORRENTS, PROMOTER OF PARC SAMÀ

His successor in the marquessate and promoter of Parc Samà, Salvador Samà i Torrents, also Marqués de Vilanova y la Geltrú y Grande de España, was a prominent Spanish politician. He was a member of the Liberal Party, Member of the Cortes, Senator for Life, mayor of Barcelona and member of the Organizing Boards of the Exhibitions of 1888 and 1929.

Salvador Samà i Torrents
Salvador Samà i Torrents

Salvador Samà i Torrents was a person ahead of his time, interested in the artistic, political and social movements of his immediate and distant surroundings. With an open, cosmopolitan and committed spirit, he was obsessed with aesthetics and the well-being that beauty generates. He recovered the exotic flavor of life in the colonies of his ancestors, found beauty in the asymmetrical harmony of romanticism and opted for the catalanmodernism that prevailed. In the park, adventures, trips and pieces brought from Cuba, England, France or China merge with anecdotes of commitment and perseverance, desires to preserve the history of their memories.

THE ROMANTICISM OF A HISTORICAL GARDEN


More than eight hundred palm trees, magical oaks and elegant cedars and pines surround the lake where ducks and turtles live. Turkeys and pheasants scamper around the waterfall, witnesses of our visit. A garden of cultural interest, a companion of moods, of freedom and reunion. This is romanticism, this is the garden of Parc Samà.

AN ELEGANT CHAOS

The search for perfection finds its place in an elegant chaos, in the harmony of nature. In the image and likeness of English gardens, Parc Samà proclaims freedom from its romantic conception, as if it were an improvised creation.

Without giving up layouts with an orderly, French-style composition, the park is mainly romantic and poetic, more or less dense and wild, largely composed of open spaces and with the presence of important botanical species. It is a clearly eclectic garden that combines styles ranging from italian to english renaissance, including in the latter case its three basic models:

  • The landscaper, who goes through the removal of statues, buildings and other elements. This would be the case of the transition zone that goes from the rear area of the Palace to the Lake.
  • The poetic, which introduces artificiality and decorative elements: the Lake and the Waterfall.
  • The abstract: the Forest.

BOTANICAL SPECIES

Exotic palm trees, Mediterranean palmettos, eucalyptus, banana trees and reeds coexist with wisteria and bougainvillea. Exotic flower beds where palm trees and ivy predominate. Oak trees that are consecrated to the feminine divinity of the Earth, centuries-old hackberries possessing magical qualities. Elegant cedars, sacred pines and mythical cypresses surround its lake, also witnesses to its estuary and its waterfall in a romantic nod towards Asia.

TRIBUTE TO THE BIRDS OF CENTRAL AMERICA


Parc Samà was built in 1881 coinciding with the cultural movement of romanticism, a new way of seeing the world where feelings took precedence over reason. This movement also reached gardening, thus romantic gardens were designed with the premise of breaking with the rigidity and structuring of the French garden and returning to nature, showing an often excessive desire for the wild and the exotic.

Within this exotic and wild variable, many gardens of the time contained collections of animals (deer, pheasants, peacocks…). In the case of Parc Samà, and continuing with the idea of the founder of the park Salvador Samà i Torrens to recreate a garden that would transport the visitor to colonial Cuba, the park housed different collections of animals among which the birds brought from Central America stood out.

Today’s garden wants to recover this dimension, focusing on its founder’s hobby of collecting ornamental birds from the New World, but adapting this concept to the 21st century,3 where animal welfare is the absolute priority. The animal collections that Parc Samà houses are intended to serve as a classroom for education and conservation, where visitors can admire, enjoy and understand up close the wonderful world of birds.

PROTECTION AND WELL-BEING

The park aims to be a powerful tool for raising social awareness of environmental problems, the conservation of endangered species and scientific research. To this end, some of the enclosures that have existed since the time of the Park’s construction, such as the Parrot Pavilion, the Pheasant House and the Anatidae Roosts, have been enabled under the guidance of expert biologists and veterinarians, providing them with elements that guarantee at all times the health, protection and well-being of the species they will house.

The Marianao Aviary, designed to immerse the visitor in the world of exotic birds, recreates the feeling of being in the tropical jungle. The overhang, built on the basis of the old deer enclosure, eight meters high, includes vegetation and water courses. The visitor enters and contemplates in their habitat and in all their splendor eight magnificent species of Central American birds, thus once again paying tribute to Salvador Samà i Torrens and the Caribbean world, whose maximum expression is these beautiful and colorful birds.

MODERNISM OR THE LOYALTY OF ART TO NATURE


Modernism and nature. Its inseparable relationship with the hand of maestro Josep Fontserè and Mestres and the collaboration of Antoni Gaudí. A place from which to understand the exceptionality of the work of this universal Catalan. Caves, walkways and benches that evoke rocks, shells and branches carefully designed to be seen as if it were a landscape. It is the beginning of modernism and the profession of Antoni Gaudí, it is the architecture of Parc Samà.

In 1881, Salvador Samà had Josep Fontserè and Mestres (in the image) build a rest residence surrounded by gardens that would evoke the lost island of Cuba. Parc Samà is the perfect fusion between the sensitivity of the developer and the creativity of its master builder.

WORK OF JOSEP FONTSERÈ AND MASTERS AND COLLABORATION OF ANTONI GAUDÍ

The distinguished Don Josep Fontserè i Mestres knew how to translate the desires of the Marquis of Marianao into shapes and colors found in nature itself. Its modernist imprint can be seen in its rounded asymmetries, in its greens, blues and ochres, and in the seduction of its exotic figures.

He was a master of great works but also of other masters. He directed and built works such as the Ciudadela Park in Barcelona with the collaboration of Antonio Gaudí. The greatest representative of Catalan modernism participated in Parc Samà. Here he worked with wrought iron, ceramics, wood and glass, materials that later became his raw materials. In the park he lived with the art of combining different styles, perhaps provoking the eclecticism that outlined his personal stamp. Parc Samà is the perfect fusion between sensibility and creativity, nature, styles and art: the best shuttle to the genius and eclectic modernism of Antoni Gaudí.

A GARDEN WITH MEMORY


During their visit we go back to life in the colonies, we hear the neighing of their decorated horses and we are shaken by the pain of their field hospital. Interested, we attended their political meetings, curiously observed their botanical experiments and, surprised, the exoticism of their fauna.

We talked with the first tourists and were moved by their classical music concerts. Travel, culture, politics, sport, art and science. Parc Samà is a garden with memory, it is what it hides and what counts.

The life of Marquis Salvador Samà i Torrents was very dynamic and the park was a reflection of his political and social commitment. Parc Samà hosted the visit of HM King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenia and hosted numerous political meetings and conventions. In the 1920s, the Development Council carried out several botanical experiments, especially tests that sought to exterminate the olive fly plague.

PASSION FOR NATURE AND NATURAL HARMONY

An anecdote that illustrates Salvador Samà i Torrents obsession with the natural harmony of the park is that he ordered that fallen leaves not be swept, without puncturing them so as not to damage the dirt and gravel paths, an action that he often carried out himself.

His passion for nature made him a collector of animals brought from different places. The garden owes its name to the park because, due to its hobby, it was equipped with different pavilions and cages that housed pheasants, parrots, wolves, monkeys, crocodiles, a panther and even a bear, peacocks, Peruvian llamas, macaws, marabouts, swallows, swans, ostriches, parakeets and beautiful aquariums that completed the fauna species of Parc Samà.

HORSE CARRIAGES

In addition to nature, Salvador Samà i Torrents’ great passion was horses and he had magnificent specimens in the park stable. His collection of horse carriages was considered the best in Spain because, apart from being made up of a great variety (tilburis, landaus, covered carriages and dueling carriages), the majority were from the prestigious Binder house.

THE PARK OPENS ITS DOORS TO THE PUBLIC

His grandson and successor, Salvador Samà i Coll, inherited his grandfather’s character and virtues and was the next owner of the park. He rode horses, was thoughtful and sociable and had an innate aesthetic taste, in addition to being a great person who was loved by everyone. He inherited his passion for aesthetics and the park from his grandfather. He spent hours and hours in the garden, knowing each tree and sitting on a bench for long periods of time to see what he could improve.

He was such a perfectionist that, once he wanted to place the Greek statue in a flowerbed next to the house, he made a child climb onto the marble pedestal, put a sheet over him as a tunic and had him move from left to right for a while until who found the exact angle to place it. Salvador Samà i Coll was the first Samà to open the doors of his garden so that people could visit it and he often chatted with tourists. He spoke German, English and French perfectly and if he was on the veranda having a snack, more than once, he had invited visitors to join him.

WITNESS OF THE CIVIL WAR

But Parc Samà has also been a witness to the Civil War. In 1936 the park had exclusively military use. The palace and gardens were confiscated by the Anti-Feixist Committee of Cambrils and the premises became a Military Training Center where thousands of soldiers passed through and after a few days were sent to the trenches.

You can still see the sign for the quartermaster’s kitchen and the entrance to the air raid shelter. It is estimated that at the peak, some 2,500 soldiers were located in barracks and tents scattered throughout the complex. The machine gun section was placed in Torre Angulo under the command of Captain Medrano.

In 1938 the Park welcomed the soldiers of the “Quinta del Biberón” who, after receiving military training for just three days, were sent to the Ebro or Segre line. At the end of the same year, a “Hospital de Sang” or field hospital for war wounded was installed within the premises. The post-war period brought changes and what was a hunting farm became an agricultural farm. Olive trees, vineyards and hazelnut trees were planted. A winery and a press were built where muscat wine was made and sold directly. More than twenty farmers worked the land.

CAMBRILS INTERNATIONAL CLASSICAL MUSIC FESTIVAL

In this new stage, Parc Samà hosted the first editions of the Cambrils International Classical Music Festival. Salvador Samà i Coll, a lover of music, was the promoter of this festival together with Lluís Recasens, mayor of Cambrils at that time. Salvador Samà ceded the garden to hold concerts there, where José Carreras and Monserrat Caballé performed, among others.

ALFONSO DE FONTCUBERTA, VII MARQUIS OF MARIANAO

Alfonso de Fontcuberta, VII Marquis of Marianao, received the park as a donation from his mother in 1981 and made the second major change to the park: he restructured the farm, invested in machinery, planted new trees such as almond and peach trees, and marketed the products wholesale. elderly. He installed drip irrigation throughout the farm and for all this he received the Deu award from the Agricultural Institute of Catalonia as a model farm. He installed drip irrigation throughout the farm and for all this he received the Deu award from the Agricultural Institute of Catalonia as a model farm.

Alfonso de Fontcuberta understood that the park had become a center of reference for tourists and, after a trip to California, he copied the model of visits to places with cultural and leisure attractions and thus began the tourist visits and the commercialization of the park through intermediary agents. In this sense, it could be said that Parc Samà was the first leisure park in Spain.

MEET
THE PARC SAMÀ FAMILY

THE SAMÀ PARK BOTANICAL COLLECTION

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CONSERVATION PLANS

We believe in sustainable and responsible tourism
WE PROTECT MEMORY, HERITAGE AND THE ENVIRONMENT
COMMITTED TO THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS 
PARC SAMÀ IS RECOGNIZED WITH THE FAMILY TOURISM SEAL
WE JOIN FORCES WITH DIFFERENT INITIATIVES AND ENTITIES