Queluz

Situated very close to Lisbon, Queluz hosts one of the most magnificent palaces in the area and is worth the journey. This 18th century palace served as a hunting lodge for the royal family until Dom Pedro transformed it its home. The saloons were richly furnished, the gardens were decorated with baroque fountains and music rooms were arranged where Dom Pedro (future D. Pedro III - King of Portugal) organized operas for her wife, who was also his niece, the future Queen Maria I. unfortunately, their happiness didn’t last long. In 1788 by the death of their son, his wife went mad.

Palácio de Queluz - Early History

Established in 1654 by a royal charter signed by João IV, the Casa do Infantado belonged to the second son of the Portuguese royal family and included all the property confiscated from those who supported Castile after the Portuguese Restoration in 1640, when the Duke of Bragança came to the throne. In turn, this included the Quinta de Queluz (Queluz Property) and Pavilhão de Caça (Hunting Lodge), which had belonged to D. Cristóvão de Moura, 1st Marquis of Castelo Rodrigo, since the late sixteenth century.

Palácio de Queluz - Exterior

Photographer: Vítor Oliveira

Palácio de Queluz

The Queluz “Country House” became a palace due to Prince Pedro (1717-1786), the second son of João V and Mariana of Austria, and brother of King José (1714-1777). The original project was entrusted to Mateus Vicente de Oliveira and work began in 1747. By 1752, the chapel had been completed and profusely decorated with rococo carving produced by Silvestre Faria Lobo. In contrast, the general plan would be successively altered and extended throughout the rest of the century.

The first phase of building work was designed to extend the seventeenth century residence, located in what is now the kitchen area, while the second coincided with the announcement of Prince Pedro’s wedding with his niece, the future Queen Maria I (1734-1816), an event which took place in 1760. The purpose of the second phase was to endow the building with the spaces and ceremonial rooms befitting a royal palace. The architect who played a leading role in this process was a Frenchman called Jean-Batiste Robillon, who had moved to Lisbon after the death of his master, the French jeweler and goldsmith Thomas Germain. Mateus Vicente, who had been summoned to assist in rebuilding Lisbon after the earthquake of 1755, was appointed Superintendent of Queluz, but left the main role to Robillon.

Surrounded by the pick of Portuguese and foreign artists, Robillon busied himself decorating the most attractive areas - the Throne Room, the Music Room and the Ambassadors’ Room - and added the west wing, the Robillon Pavilion and the Lion Staircase to the original plan. The last of these was introduced as a means to link the different levels of the upper gardens and the “Quinta” itself. Both the geometrical French-style gardens that surround the palace and the rest of the park were decorated with statues, balustrades, lakes and tiles.

Palácio de Queluz - Official Residence of Royal Family

Pousada de Queluz

Photographer: Vítor Oliveira

Pousada de Queluz

Always intended as a summer palace, Queluz frequently welcomed the court for concerts, jousts and firework displays to celebrate the royal family’s patron saints’days, especially St. Peter, and birthdays. The fire at the Ajuda Palace in 1794 led Prince Regent João VI (1767-1826) and Carlota Joaquina (1775-1830) to settle permanently at Queluz. A second floor was built on the Robillon wing for Princess Carlota Joaquina and the couple’s nine children, although only the main floor above the Ceremonial Façade has survived as the rest burned down in a fire in 1934. The adjacent buildings - the Clocktower Building (now the pousada), which was for the butler’s department and staff accommodation, the Barracks and the neo-classical mansion belongings to the 2nd Marquis of Pombal, gentleman to Maria I - also date from the turn of the century.

The royal family’s hasty departure for Brazil in 1807, the result of the French invasion, marked the end of the palace’s most intense period of life. The court would return to Portugal in 1821, but Queluz would only be reoccupied in a sort of semi-exile by the Queen Carlota Joaquina and her sister-inlaw, the Princess Maria Francisca Benedita (1746-1829), the “widow-princess” who gave her name to one of the wings. King Miguel (1802-1866) would also live there while he was still king and during the bloody period of civil war that brought him into conflict with his own brother, King Pedro IV (1898-1834), the first Emperor of Brazil. Immediately after the victory of the liberal cause that Pedro espoused, he would die in Queluz in the D. Quixote Room.

Palácio de Queluz - Present

Palácio de Queluz - Interior

Photographer: Mounir Soussi Idrissi

Palácio de Queluz

The Queluz Palace has been state property since 1908, and now boasts a valuable collection of decorative arts, including Portuguese furniture, Arraiolos carpets, royal portraits, Chinese and European porcelain and jewellery, mainly from the royal collections, all in genuine settings that create the appropriate atmosphere. The rooms, which are relatively small and cosy, are decorated with gilded carving and canvases that reveal how tastes developed in Portugal during the second half of the eighteenth century and early nineteenth century, moving from the rococo to the neo-classical.

Visitor can enjoy numerous week concerts held in the rooms or see open-air performances by the Portuguese Equestrian Art Riding School.

Since 1957, the Queen Maria Pavilion, the east wing adjacent to the palace, has been the official residence for visiting heads of state.

Information

  • Largo do Palácio, Queluz, Portugal
  • Open everyday except Tuesdays and main public holidays from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
  • Palace and Gardens 4€, Gardens 1.5€
  • Vimeca bus 107 from the top of Avenida da Liberdade or buses 101, 105, 163 from Colégio Militar-Luz metro station
  • Lisbon-Sintra line, get off at Queluz/Belas

Source: Instituto Português do Património Arquitectónico