Between 1742 and 1758, Mateus Vicente de Oliveira, who had previously worked on the Palace at Mafra, worked to transform an existing country house into a palace-like structure. 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 daunting task of creating a more worthy home fit for royalty. Robillion designed and added the throne room and a pavilion of private chambers. In 1784 Manuel Caetano de Sousa took over the responsibility of construction. He 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 Prince Regent João VI. The Palace underwent additional upgrades to house the household guards and the court. For the ill-fated Queen Maria, the Palace became a gilded cage. Ever since she became a widow and after the death of her oldest son, she was prone to bouts of mania and depression. The Portuguese royal family continued to live at Queluz until their departure to Brazil in 1807, fleeing Napoleon's troops as they entered Lisbon.
After King João VI and the Portuguese Court left Portugal in 1821, the Palace's golden age came to an end. Upon return to Portugal, Queen Carlota Joaquina began to live in Queluz once again, but under a regime of semi-exile. King Miguel (1802-1866) also lived in the Palace of Queluz during the bloody and fratricidal wars against his brother, Pedro IV (1798-1834). Immediately after the liberal victory, Miguel died prematurely from tuberculosis, in the same room where he was born 36 years previously.
The Queen Maria Pavilion, located in the East wing of the Palace, was turned into the official residence for foreign Heads of State during their visits in 1957. The Pink Palace at Queluz has had many uses over time, including being a zoo in the early 19th century. The Royal Guard building, situated across the courtyard, has been transformed into a Pousada. The National Palace of Queluz was established as a National Monument in 1910 and became a part of the Network of European Royal Residences in 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 staterooms 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. 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 has a highly scenographic effect and depicts the royal family participating in a serenade. This is a replica of the original canvas attributed to the Italian painter Giovanni Berardi. The original was concluded in 1762 but was sadly destroyed in the 1934 fire, which damaged this wing of the palace. In front of two regal 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. Large ornate mirrors hand on the walls and reflect the glint of gold gilding.
The palace kitchens have been well maintained and now houses the Cozinha Velha restaurant, owned by the Pousada. The restaurant features a large stone fireplace as its centerpiece and the tables are arranged under a beautiful wooden ceiling. Authentic copper cooking utensils hang from the walls. Dining at this restaurant is a great way to experience history, and the desserts are made using original convent recipes. | Daily: 12h30 - 15h00pm/19h30 - 22h00
Restaurant Contact Details
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. They contain statues inspired by characters derived from classical mythology. They stand along paths laid out in various parterre gardens, such as the Hanging Garden and the Malta Garden, in an assemblage of designs. A series of avenues radiate from 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 the 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 and two sphinxes oddly dressed in 18th-century costume.
As well as the French style, there's an influence of Flemish design with the addition of canals. The largest of which lies at the foot of the Lion's Staircase. Over 100 metres 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. Its continuing mission is to preserve the teaching, practice and promotion of traditional Portuguese equestrian art. The famous Lusitano breed of a 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)
Henrique Calado Riding Ring, Calçada da Ajuda, 1300-006, Belém, Lisbon, Portugal.
38° 42' 01.5"N | 09° 11' 59.8"W | +351 219 237 300
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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: