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Our History Defing the term Quinta

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"Quintas": a peculiarly Portuguese way of living.

The Portuguese definition for the word "Quinta" is immediately described as a piece of land to farm on, or to sow on. However, the definition includes several variations: a rustic property in the country with a house or cottage improvement, a country home, or an orchard surrounded by a circle of trees inside a built property.

But it is the connotation of the word Quinta that is quite romantic. Usually a Quinta is the type of property that is mostly owned by wealthy landlords or former aristocrats - evoking a more genteel way of living.

It is not typical to find many large Quintas in any given area. The Quintas of Portugal were often references to a seat of governance for an official, an important civil servant or influential and wealthy member of society. The parallel of a Quinta is very much close to that of a Manor Estate in England - referencing almost always exclusivity and high class living. It is this definition that befits closest Quinta do Alto de São João today.


*Note, however, that in recent history the term "Quinta" has been extended to include the category of many small properties such as homesteads in the city with a large garden. This is the case since many old Quintas were divided up into different pieces of land as a result of the "Napoleonic" rule of inheritance law - prevalent in Portugal since the 18th century. But even more so since the 1974 revolution in Portugal when wealthy landlords were sometimes forced to sell large parts of their precious real estate to many of their live-in labourers or families of tenants that had worked previously on a "feudal" type of system for the landlords.
The "feudal-like" system was abolished by the new government and made it possible for many of the tenants to buy up the land they worked on merely by being resident upon them. It is not uncommon to find in Funchal, for example, a small house being referred to as a Quinta. What may seem as a misnomer is actually reference to its former glory when it was previously a large estate. Unfortunately, in some cases, surrounding the Quinta are more recent improvements which much too often can be quite unattractive homesteads as generation after generation of families grew larger and larger and the scarce land suffered from over-division and over-develpoment.

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