Work to adapt the existing country house into anything like a palace was carried out between 1742 to 1758 by Mateus Vicente de Oliveira who had also worked on the palace at Mafra as an apprentice. Following the announcement of the marriage of Prince Pedro to the heir to the throne, Princess Maria in 1760 construction entered a second and more pressing period. The architect and goldsmith Jean-Baptiste Robillion took over the task of creating a worthy home fit for royalty. It was Robillion who designed and added the throne room and a pavilion of private chambers. In 1784 Manuel Caetano de Sousa took over the responsibility of construction who made alterations to the second floor and the private apartments.
Following the fire at the Royal Complex of Ajuda, in 1794, Queluz took over the role of official Royal residence for Queen Maria I and of the Prince Regents João VI. Further upgrades to the palace to accommodate the household guards and the court took place. For the poor Queen Maria the palace was something of a gilded cage who, ever since she became a widow and the death of her oldest son, was prone to bouts of mania and depression. The Portuguese royal family continued to live there until their departure to Brazil in 1807, to flee Napoleon's troops who entered Lisbon under the command of General Junot.
The departure saw the end of the palace's golden age however when King João VI and the Portuguese Court returned to Portugal in 1821 Queluz came to be inhabited once more under a regime of semi-exile, by Queen Carlota Joaquina. King Miguel (1802-1866) also lived in the Palace of Queluz, during the bloody and fratricidal wars that he waged against his brother Pedro IV (1798-1834), the first Emperor of Brazil and the first Portuguese constitutional monarch, who immediately after the liberal victory, died here prematurely as a victim of tuberculosis, in the same room where he had been born 36 years previous.
In 1957, the Queen Maria Pavilion, the East wing annexed to the Palace, became the residence for foreign Heads of State during official visits. The Pink palace at Queluz however over the years had various uses, during the early 19th century it was even a zoo. The Royal Guard building across the courtyard now serves as a Pousada. The National Palace of Queluz was designated a National Monument in 1910 and has been a member of the Network of European Royal Residences since 2013.
The somewhat unprepossessing main facade of the palace betrays the riches within. The Throne Room, also affectionately called the Big House, is the largest of the three state rooms in the Palace of Queluz and was built to impress. The room is decorated in the regency-rococo style, with carvings by the sculptor-carver Silvestre de Faria Lobo adorning the walls. The figurative paintings emblazoned on the ceiling are the work of the painter João de Freitas Leitão and from the centre of the ceilings enormous chandeliers hang. Great balls and concerts were held here during the summer months hosted by Pedro and Maria. Today the Throne Room serves as the stage for state banquets hosted by the President of the Republic and other state occasions.
The Ambassadors Room is equally exuberant with decorative painted ceilings by Bruno José do Vale and Francisco de Melo. The painting of the central panel, with its highly scenographic effect, depicts the royal family participating in a serenade. This is a replica of the original canvas attributed to the Italian painter Giovanni Berardi, concluded in 1762 but destroyed in the fire of 1934, which particularly damaged this section of the palace. In front of two thrones there's a distinctive chequered marble floor over which in times past dignitaries would have traversed to kiss the hand of the Prince Regent. Enormous ornate mirrors festoon the walls which reflect the glint of gold gilding.
The palace kitchens remain well preserved and is now home to the Cozinha Velha restaurant and owned by the adjoining Pousada. A massive stone fireplace is the main centrepiece around which the tables are arranged under a vaulted wooden ceiling. The walls are decorated with the original copper cooking utensils. A meal at the restaurant is a perfect way to immerse yourself in the past. The desserts served here are made to original convent recipes. | Daily: 12h30 - 15h00pm/19h30 - 22h00
Largo do Palácio Nacional, 2745-191, Queluz, Portugal.
38° 46' 19.2" N | 09° 17' 31.2" W | +351 214 356 158
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Often referred to as the Versailles of Portugal the gardens at Queluz are exuberant and contain statues inspired by characters from classical mythology which stand along paths laid out in various parterre gardens, such as the the Hanging Garden and the Malta Garden, in an assemblage of designs. A series of avenues radiate from the the main building, which in turn are linked to others, forming a complex geometrical grid containing lakes and water features where paths intersect. The largest water feature is the Medallions Lake created by French architect Jean-Baptiste Robillion in 1764 and takes the form of a star-like octagon. The main feature of the principal parterre is the "Portico dos Cavalinhos", a garden temple flanked by two figurative equestrian statues depicting Fames, and two sphinxes oddly dressed in 18th-century costume.
As well as French styles there's an influence of Flemish design with the addition of canals. The largest of which lies at the foot of the Lions Staircase. Over 100 metre long with walls decorated with tiled panels depicting seascapes and associated scenes. During the 18th century the canals were the setting for festivals where fully rigged ships would sail in processions.
Founded in 1979 the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art is a continuation of the Real Picaria, the equestrian academy of the Portuguese Court, first established in the 18th century at Queluz. It's continuing mission is to preserve the teaching, practice and promotion of traditional Portuguese equestrian art. The famous Lusitano breed of horse, reared at the Alter Real Stud Farm and trained here. Performances and training sessions are open to the general public at the Henrique Calado Riding Ring in Belém, Lisbon.
Presentations Tuesdays - Saturdays (except the last Saturday of each month): 10h00 - 13h00
Gala Last Friday of each month (with some exceptions)
Low Season, Daily: 09h00 - 18h00, (last admission at 17h00)
High Season Daily: 09h00 - 19h00, (last admission at 18h00)
Queluz Palace is located half way between Lisbon and Sintra, about ten miles (16km) and is easy accessible by public transport from both places.
From Lisbon or Sintra take the IC19 and exit at 'Queluz – Palácio' and keep on following the signs.
Urban train services (comboios urbanos) from Lisbon's central train station Rossio and Sintra are regular and reliable. If coming from Lisbon alight at Queluz-Belas and if you are coming from Sintra, get off at Monte Abraão. There's a 15-20 minute walk to the Palace from both stations.
Vimeca run services between Lisbon and Queluz: