The mine in Sao Domingos was once the largest pyrite and copper mine on the Iberian Peninsula. From the middle of the 19th century it was worked by a British company. The architecture and layout of the village that developed as a result of the mining reflects, even today, the hierarchical nature of that enterprtise.
The palace is in the exclusive part of the village that was reserved for the British. It was constructed in 1875 in a late Victorian style that was influenced by the architecture of the Alentejo, and the original building served as the headquarters of the mining company. Today it is the Sao Domingos country hotel.
It was in 1965 that the mine was shut down, more than 100 years after mining began. In 2005, forty years later, the country hotel has opened and celebrates the beginning of a new era for mina de Sao Domingos, inspired by the wonderful peace and calm of its location under the crystal clear, star studded skies of the Alentejo.
Hovering between the historic and the futuristic, the doors of the former palace are leading, symbolically, to a rebirth of the village of Mina de Sao Domingos.
The sun shines and the hammocks and deck chairs invite guests to laze round the salt water pool. Refreshments and snacks are served at the pool-side Sombra bar.
The thoughtfully arranged playground makes a perfect base for children to play.
The billiard room, tucked between the library and the bar and overlooking the garden, might tempt you to play snooker or any of the other table games available.
The Dona Amelia library is redolent of the palace's past. The name itself (marking a visit by the queen of Portugal), the fireplace, the fillgree ceiling and the restored furniture all invite one to take a step backwards into another age.
The Luz auditorium (with its capacity to seat 100 people) allows all sorts of events to be staged. It has an interpreters' booth and modern audio-visual equipment and, to one side, the “sala de telephones” is available for smaller conferences, or as a back-up space to the auditorium area.
Hotel Sao Domingos has 6 superior rooms bedrooms on the former palace which are very spacious with high ceilings. Bathrooms have hydro massage bathtubs. One of these superior rooms is suitable for disabled guests. In the new building there are 25 standard bedrooms with views over the pool and garden or to the lake and balcony or terrace.
After a century of the ground around Mina de Sao Domingos being exploited it is now the skies above the town that are contributing to its re-birth or, rather, the country hotel's observatory from which the endless mysteries of the stars can be admired.
The observing conditions are ideal thanks to the region's exceptionally dry and clean air, and the stars are viewed through a GPS - and computer – controlled.
An area is available, just beside the observatory, for amateur astronomers to set up their own equipment, while they may also have access to the observatory's programs and information data bases.
The Don Carlos room (whose name, like that of the library, recalls a royal visit to Mina de Sao Domingos) seems to have much the same use now as then, namely as a magnificent hall for banquets and receptions.
Leading out into the garden, this fitness studio facility offers a combination of jogging and training to guests who want to keep fit during their stay at our country hotel.