THE COLONIAL LEGACY OF A MARQUISATE
Parc Samà is a roundtrip, a journey of emigration and return. Dreaming of America, coming back and leaving a legacy. Other trees, other birds, others costumes and colours, other arts…
Adventure, culture and wealth. Parc Samà is the history and the story of the Marquisate of Marianao.
SAMÀ IS SYNONYMOUS WITH INDIANO FAMILY, AMERICA, FORTUNE AND RETURN
Conservative in politics and protectionist in business, they acted as sponsors and encourage the economic, social and cultural rebirth of the town that welcomed them.
The committed nature of Samà’s family led them to work in different public positions. Salvador Samà i Martí, first Marquis de Marianao, was Councillor in Habana and Senator for the Kingdom in Cuba.
SALVADOR SAMÀ I TORRENTS, PROMOTER OF PARC SAMÀ
His successor in the marquisate and promoter of Parc Samà, Salvador Samà i Torrents, also Marquis of Vilanova i la Geltrú and Grandee of Spain, was a renowned Spanish politician, member of the Liberal Party, Member of the Parliament, lifelong Senator, Mayor of Barcelona and member of the organizing committee of 1888 and 1929 International Exhibitions.
Salvador Samà i Torrents was a man ahead of his time, interested in the artistic, political and social movements that were taking place both, in his surroundings and far away.
He had an open, cosmopolitan and committed spirit. He worried about beauty and the comfort it brings.
PARK SAMÀ IS A LEGACY OF HIS HISTORY AND HIS HUMAN QUALITIES
He recovered the exotic flavour of his ancestors’ colonial life. He found beauty in the asymmetric harmony of Romanticism while he chose the Catalan Modernism style in vogue at the time.
The park is a fusion of adventures, trips and pieces brought from Cuba, England, France or China, along with anecdotes of perseverance, determination and a wish for preserving the history of his memories.
ROMANTICISM OF A GARDEN
A romantic garden, French parterres, a poetic and abstract forest, plane trees and reeds coexist with wisteria and bougainvillea. More than eight hundred palm trees, magical oak trees and elegant cedar and pine trees surround a lake where the ducks and turtles live.
Peacocks and pheasants play around its waterfall, witnesses of our visit. Parc Samà is a companion for our feelings, freedom and encounters.
It is romanticism, it is the garden of Parc Samà.
AN ELEGANT CHAOS
The search of perfection finds its place in an elegant chaos, in the harmony of nature itself. Built in the image of the English gardens, Parc Samà proclaims freedom from its Romantic conception, as if the park was an improvised creation.
Without giving up its organised outlines that follow the French style, the park is mainly romantic and poetic, more or less dense and wild, formed mostly by open spaces and important botanical species.
It is clearly an eclectic garden which combines styles such as Italian Renaissance or English Romanticism, including in this last case their three basic elements: the landscape, which involves leaving out statues, buildings and other elements, as in the rear area of the Palace of the Lake; the poetic, which introduces artificiality and decorative elements, as the Lake or the Waterfall; and the abstract art, the Forest.
EXOTIC PALM TREES, EUCALYPTUS, BANANA TREES AND REEDS COEXIST WITH GLYCINES AND BOUGAINVILLEAS
Exotic parterres dominated by palm trees and ivy. Oaks consecrated to the feminine goddess Earth, hundred-year-old hackberries with magic qualities.
Elegant cedars, sacred pine trees and mythical cypresses surround its lake, which are witnesses to its statuary and its waterfall in a romantic wink to Asia.
Tribute to the birds of Central America
Parc Samà is built in 1881 coinciding with the cultural movement of Romanticism, a new way of seeing the world where feelings prevail over reason. This movement also came to gardening, so the romantic gardens were designed with the premise of breaking with the rigidity and structure of the French garden and return to nature, showing an eagerness often overwhelmed by the wild and 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 following the idea of the founder of the park Salvador Samà i Torrens to recreate a garden that will transport the visitor to colonial Cuba, the park housed different collections of animals among which the birds brought from Central America.
The garden of today wants to recover this dimension, focusing on the fondness of its founder in the collection of ornamental birds coming from the new world, but adapting this concept to the 21st century, where animal welfare is the absolute priority. The animal collections that Parc Samà houses are designed to serve as a classroom for education and conservation, where visitors can admire, enjoy and understand the wonderful world of birds.
The aviary also aims to be a powerful tool for social awareness of environmental problems, conservation of endangered species and scientific research.
Protection and welfare
For this reason, some of the buildings already in existence since the construction of the Park, such as the Parrots’ Pavilion, the Pheasant and Anatidae roosts, have been modified under the guidance of experts biologists and veterinarians to guarantee the health, protection and welfare of the species to be housed.
The novelty is the second largest aviary that can be visited in Spain, designed to immerse the visitor into the world of exotic birds, recreating the feeling of being in the rainforest. The aviary, constructed on the basis of the old deer enclosure, of eight meters of height, includes vegetation and water courses.
The visitor enters and contemplates in its habitat and in all its splendour eight magnificent species of Central American birds, thus offering once again a tribute to Salvador Samà i Torrens and to the Caribbean world, whose maximum expression are these beautiful and colourful birds.
MODERNISM OR ART LOYALTY TO THE NATURE
Modernism, nature and its close relationship through the work of the genius of Josep Fontserè i Mestres, with the collaboration of Antoni Gaudí. It is a place where it is possible to understand the exceptional nature of the work of this universal Catalan.
Caverns, walkways, benches that recall rocks, seashells and branches carefully planned to resemble a landscape. It is the beginning of Modernism and Antoni Gaudi’s work; it is the architecture of Parc Samà.
STANDING SINCE 1881
In 1881, Salvador Samà commissioned the construction of a vacation home surrounded by gardens that recall the lost Cuba. He entrusted Josep Fontserè i Mestres the project.
Parc Samà represents a perfect fusion of its sponsor’s sensibility and its builder’s creativity.
THE WORK OF JOSEP FONTSERÉ I MESTRES
Famous architect Josep Fontserè i Mestres certainly knew how to transform the Marquis of Marianao’s wishes into shapes and colours that could be found in nature itself.
His Modernist impression can be seen in the rounded asymmetries of the park, in its green, blue and ochre colours and in the seduction oozing from its exotic statues.
COLLABORATION OF ANTONI GAUDÍ
Mr Fontserè was a master of great works and also of other grandmasters. He managed and built works like Citadel Park in Barcelona in collaboration with Antonio Gaudí.
The biggest representative of Catalan Modernism took part in Parc Samà. He worked with the wrought iron, ceramic, wood and glass that were used as his raw material later. In the park, Gaudí experimented with the art of joining different styles together, maybe causing the eclecticism that became his personal mark.
Park Samà is the perfect fusion between sensitivity and creativity, nature, styles, art: the best inspiration for the genius and eclecticism of Antoni Gaudí.
Marquis Salvador Samà i Torrents’ life was very dynamic and the park was a reflection of his political and social commitment. Parc Samà hosted the visit of King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenia and headquarters of numerous meetings and political conventions.
In the 20’s, the Development Council carried out different botanical experiments in the Parc, especially tests which expected to exterminate the olive tree fly.
OBSESSION FOR NATURAL HARMONY
Salvador Samà’s obsession to achieve a natural harmony in the Park is illustrated by the anecdote that explains how he ordered not to sweep the fallen leaves, but to pick them, in order to avoid damage on the soil and gravel paths. Actually, he usually performed this task himself.
PASSION FOR NATURE
His passion for nature made him an authentic collector of animals from different places.
Park Samà owes its name to the fact that it was equipped with different pavilions and jails for pheasants, parrots, wolfs, monkeys, crocodiles, a panther, even a bear, peacock, llamas from Peru, macaws, marabous, swallows, swans, ostriches, parakeets, and wonderful aquariums that completed the different species living in Parc Samà.
Besides nature, the biggest passion of Salvador Samà i Torrents were the horses. He had superb specimens in the stables of the park. His horse-drawn carriages collection was considered the best in Spain, because on top of being very diverse (there were tilburies, landaus, covered and duel carriages), most of them were produced by the prestigious manufacturer Binder.
Salvador Samà i Coll
His grandson and successor, Salvador Samà i Coll, inherited the personality and virtues of his grandfather and was the next owner of the park. He rode horses, he was meticulous and sociable and had an innate aesthetic taste.
He was also a great person who was loved by everyone. He spent hours and hours in the garden, knew every tree and sat on his bench thinking how the park could be improved.
He was such a perfectionist that, once, before placing a Greek statue on a parterre next to the house, he asked a child to step onto the marble pedestal, dressed him with a sheet as a tunic and made him pose in different positions on the pedestal until he found the perfect spot to place the statue.
THE PARK OPENS ITS DOORS TO PUBLIC
Salvador Samà i Coll was the first Samà who opened the doors of his garden so people could visit and, sometimes, talked with the tourists.
He spoke German, English and French fluently, and if he was having a tea in the veranda, he usually invited them to join him.
WITNESS OF THE CIVIL WAR
Parc Samà has also been witness of the Spanish Civil War. In 1936, the Park was used exclusively for military purposes. The palace and the gardens were seized by the Cambrils’ Antifascist Committee and became a Military Instruction Centre where thousands of soldiers stayed for a few days before being sent to the trenches.
We can still see the sign of the logistic office kitchen and the air-raid shelter entrance. It is estimated that about 2,500 soldiers were living in barracks and tents in the Park during the most decisive time of the war. The machine gun section was placed in the Tower Angulo under Captain Medrano’s supervision.
In 1938, the Park hosted the conscription known as the “Baby-bottle Conscription”, due to their young age, who were sent to the Ebro and Segre rivers enemy lines after only three days of military training. By the end of the year, a Field Hospital for the wounded at war were placed inside the Park.
FROM HUNTING LAND TO AGRICULTURAL PROPERTY
The post-war years brought changes and the hunting land became agricultural property. Olive trees, vineyards and hazelnut trees were planted. A winery and a press where muscatel wine was sold was build. More than twenty farmers worked there.
INTERNATIONAL CLASSIC MUSIC FESTIVAL OF CAMBRILS
In this new phase, Parc Samà hosted the first editions of the International Classic Music Festival of Cambrils.
Salvador Samà i Coll, a music lover, was the promoter of this festival along with Lluís Recasens, Mayor of Cambrils at that time.
Salvador Samà lent the Park to hold concerts, where singers such as José Carreras and Montserrat Caballé among others performed.
ALFONSO DE FONTCUBERTA, VII MARQUIS OF MARIANAO
Alfonso de Fontcuberta, VII Marquis of Marianao, inherited the Park from his mother in 1981 and made the second important change in the park: he restructured the property, invested in machinery, planted almond and peach trees, and commercialized the products to wholesale buyers. Drip irrigation was installed throughout the property and for this he received the “Deu” Award of Catalan Agricultural Institute for creating a model farm.
Alfonso de Fontcuberta understood that the Park had become a place of interest for tourists and, after a trip to California, he copied their model of visits to cultural and entertainment places, and thus the touristic visits and commercialization of the Park started. It can be said, then, that Parc Samà was the first leisure park in Spain.