Ferreira de Castro, the writer who wanted to be buried in the Sintra Mountains
24 May 2023
Lovers of walking usually make use of the numerous pedestrian routes to visit the monuments of Sintra. Every year, thousands of people use the Santa Maria route to climb from the historic centre to the Moorish Castle. What most people don't know is that, along the way, they will pass by the grave of one of the greatest Portuguese writers of the 20th century.
José Maria Ferreira de Castro was born on 24 May 1898 in the municipality of Oliveira de Azeméis. He emigrated alone to Brazil when he was still a child, but it was in Sintra that he spent most of his life and was inspired to write many of his works. Books such as ‘Emigrantes’ (Emigrants), ‘A Selva’ (The Jungle), ‘Eternidade’ (Eternity), ‘Terra Fria’ (Cold Ground) and ‘A Lã e a Neve’ (The Wool and the Snow) brought him national and international recognition, even being nominated for the Nobel Prize twice.
Ferreira de Castro wrote most of his works in Sintra, staying at the Hotel Netto. He spent many hours at the Café Paris, reflecting and writing. It was in Sintra that he felt at ease, in the midst of nature - a recurring topic in his work. Therefore, it is not surprising that he offered Sintra his estate, with more than 20,000 correspondence documents and many other manuscripts (a collection that can be seen specifically at the Ferreira de Castro Museum, in the historic centre of Sintra).
But the writer didn't want his connection to Sintra to end here. His love for this land even led him to make a peculiar request to the Portuguese authorities: he wanted to remain forever connected, in body and soul, to the place that inspired him so much.
“I would like to be buried on the edge of one of those poetic pathways that lead to the Moorish Castle under the romantic old trees that reside there. I have contemplated this idea in my mind so many times. / Staying close to the men, my brothers, and closer to the Moon and the stars, my friends, with the green land and the sea in front of me as far as the eye can see - the sea and the land that I loved so much”, reads the request made in 1970.
Ferreira de Castro died on 29 June 1974. His request was respected - the writer rests in the Sintra Mountains, under a bench carved into the rock. The path where it is located, on the way to Moorish Castle, has one of the most beautiful views of Sintra.