Santar, Garden Village

Location Santar, Nelas
Promotor Private
Status In progress
Year 2013

Scope Integrated master-planning for a Visitor Attraction


Santar is a village in the centre of Portugal’s Dão wine region with approximately 1000 inhabitants, with an important material and immaterial heritage. Its landscape of vineyards with strong historical, cultural and economic significance, envelop an important nucleus of noble and vernacular rural architecture, historical gardens and classified religious buildings.

With the purpose of promoting the cultural, historical and architectural richness of Santar and its resultant appeal as a destination for cultural and landscape tourism, a group of property owners united to develop a phased project based on recovering their formal and informal gardens unusually located in the historical centre of the village. This is a project that includes, in addition to the gardens, centres for the interpretation of landscape, history and folk traditions of Santar and its manor Casa de Santar, as well as a limited premium wine production in homage to local personalities.


Placemakers was chosen by the promotors to study the potential for developing a cultural-tourism project and provide strategic orientations based on the restoration of a group of formal and informal neighbouring gardens situated in the historical centre of Santar.

With a multidisciplinary team adapted to the project’s needs and capable of responding to its challenges – landscape architecture, tourism development, urban planning, museology, Visitor Attractions, hotel accommodation and financing, we were responsible for the 1st. Phase of Designing Preliminary Concept, the 2nd. Phase of Critical Analysis of the developing Project, Strategic Orientations, Management Model studies, Bases for Creating a DMO (Destination Management Organisation) and assisting in the contacts with external entities, both private and public.

These tasks were undertaken with creative approaches and methodologies which define how Placemakers respond to its projects: total involvement with constant challenging and thinking out-of-the-box. The process included field research followed by creative development options, scenario constructions, discussions and options with the client.

The Placemakers proposal was designed to protect and project the local heritage creating an appealing destination not only for its residents, but also for the tourist who values experiences anchored in the authenticity of place.

The affirmation of Santar as a sustainable cultural tourism location is crucial to driving the project’s success, where the involvement and complicity of the local population are also essential to making it happen, as well as the capacity to manage it as a destination. The private project of Santar Garden Village is, in turn, a catalyst for village participation assuming the character of a “stage” for the experiences of discovering the local heritage and landscapes and which in turn was the driver for our study of destination management options.