Queluz National Palace (Palácio Nacional de Queluz)

Queluz National Palace


Location: Largo do Palacio, Queluz      Map

Constructed: 18th century

Tel. 214 343 860

Open: 9:30am- 5pm Wed- Mon

Closed: 1 Jan, Easter, 1 May, 29 Jun, 25 Dec


Description of Queluz National Palace

The Queluz National Palace, also known as Queluz Palace and Queluz Royal Palace, is an 18th century palace located in Queluz, in the municipality of Sintra, in the district of Lisbon.

One of the last great Rococo-style buildings to be designed in Europe, the palace was conceived as a summer retreat for D. Pedro de Bragança, who would later become the husband and then king consort of his own niece, the Queen. Maria I. It served as a discreet place of imprisonment for Queen D. Maria, as her descent into madness continued in the years following D. Pedro's death in 1786. After the Ajuda Palace was destroyed by fire in 1794, the Palace de Queluz became the official residence of Prince Regent João VI and his family, remaining so until the royal family traveled to the colony of Brazil in 1807 after the French invasion of Portugal.

Work on the palace began in 1747 under the command of Portuguese architect Mateus Vicente de Oliveira. Despite being much smaller, the palace is often referred to as the Portuguese Versailles.

The Queluz National Palace has been classified as a National Monument since 1910.


Architecture and history

Queluz's architecture is representative of the last extravagant period of Portuguese culture that followed the discovery of Brazilian gold in 1690. From the beginning of the 18th century many foreign artists and architects were employed in Portugal to satisfy the needs of the newly enriched aristocracy; they brought with them classical architectural ideas that derived from the Renaissance. With its design, Queluz is a revolt against the earlier, heavier, Italian-influenced Baroque that preceded the Rococo style across Europe.

Comparisons with Versailles are unwarranted: Versailles is referred to as having "an aura of majesty" and was built and dedicated to display in stone "all the glories of France," while the much smaller palace at Queluz has been described as "exquisite rather than magnificent." " and looking like "a very expensive birthday cake". In its frivolity, Queluz's architecture reflects the lifestyle led by the Portuguese royal family at the time of construction: during the reign of Dom Pedro's brother José I, when Portugal was in practice ruled by a valid or favorite, the Marquis of dovecote Pombal encouraged the royal family to get away from their days in the country and leave affairs of state to him. Thus, Queluz's whimsical, almost capricious architecture, set apart from the capital, accurately represents Portugal's politics and social events during this era, and the carefree, extravagant lives led by its occupants.

On the accession to the throne of Dom Pedro's wife Maria in 1777, Pombal was dismissed, and Dom Pedro and D Maria ruled jointly in his place, using the partially completed Rococo palace at Queluz as a retreat from state affairs in the same way. that Frederick the Great used Europe's other famous Rococo palace, Sanssouci.

The location chosen for this summer retreat was in a secluded place. It was originally owned by the Marquis of Castelo Rodrigo. When the Spaniards were expelled from Portugal in 1640, the Marquis was accused of having collaborated with the Spaniards and the property was seized by the Portuguese Crown. The property and its hunting cabin then became one of the many properties of the Portuguese king, João IV. He reserved it as one of the properties reserved for the second son of the reigning monarch.

The architect Mateus Vicente de Oliveira, had trained under the command of Ludovice de Ratisbon and Jean-Baptiste Robillon during the construction of the royal palace and convent of Mafra. Mafra's darker and more massive classical palace doesn't seem to have influenced Queluz's design, which is in a lighter, more airy style. Work began in 1747 and continued rapidly until 1755, when it was interrupted by the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755, after which workers were most urgently needed to rebuild the city. The earthquake proved to be a catalyst as the urban reconstruction process spurred the development of the arts in Portugal. Queluz's subsequent architecture was influenced by new ideas and concepts. When work resumed in 1758, the design was adapted for fear of another earthquake. Thus, later works take the form of low, long buildings, more structurally stable than a single tall block: as a result, seen from afar, the palace resembles long rows connected by taller pavilions, rather than a single building. .



The public facade of the palace directly faces a town square and takes the form of two low, symmetrical quadrant wings that flank the wings of a small central body of logis, thus forming a semicircular cour d'honneur. The south of the quadrant's two wings is enclosed by the onion dam chapel, while the north wing contained the kitchens and servants' quarters.

Oliveira was directly responsible for the "Ceremonial Facade" of the "corpus de logis", the rectangular block that forms the core of the palace, and some of the interior courtyards. His former tutor, the Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Robillon, was responsible for the gardens, many buildings and the Rococo interiors. He, in turn, was assisted by Jean-Baptiste Pillement and other French and Portuguese artists. The "Ceremonial Facade" is the most famous view of the palace. With classical proportions, it is decorated externally by travertine rendering and delicately carved in trolleys over the windows. It has been described as a "harmonious example of Portuguese Baroque".

In 1760, Pombal arranged for Dom Pedro to marry King Maria's unstable daughter, the heir to the throne. Pombal encouraged the couple to live with their children in the unfinished palace in Queluz, far from the government headquarters. It has always been a favorite retreat for the couple and was their main home before Maria's accession. Further enlargements were made to reflect the elevation of the palace from the country retreat to the Royal Palace. However, Maria had sacked Pombal on her accession and, as a ruling monarch, she had no time to be away from her hours in the country. Dom Pedro interfered little in state affairs, preferring to spend his time on religious matters.

With the death of Dom Pedro, in 1786, all the internal work was completed. This was fortunate, as from this period onwards his widow's mental health deteriorated, until in 1794 she and her court took up full-time official residence in Queluz. There, the now completely insane queen could be hidden from the sight of her subjects. Her eldest son, later King João VI, was appointed Regent and ruled over Lisbon and the grand palace at Mafra.



The interior of the palace received no less attention to detail and design than the exterior. French artisans were employed to decorate the rooms, many of which are small, with the walls and ceilings painted to depict allegorical and historical scenes. Polished red bricks were often used for the floors, for a rustic look as well as coolness in hot weather. The many tall pavilions that link the various lower wings of the palace allow for a series of long low rooms broken up by higher, lighter rooms. A predominant feature of the interiors is the tiles: polychromatic glazed tiles, often in a chinoiserie style with shades of blue and yellow contrasting with muted reds. Materials for use in the interior included stone imported from Genoa and woods from Brazil, Denmark and Sweden, while colored marbles were imported from Italy.

The Music Room
The Music Room (pictured below) that follows the "Ambassadors' Room" is decorated with gilded and painted wood and was redesigned in 1768. The inset ceiling with painted carts is notable for the intricate rib scheme of its design, similar to that of the vestibule. in Caserta. The Music Room is decorated in a more neoclassical style than the other rooms in the State, reflecting its redesign in the period following the Rococo Baroque in the late half of the 18th century. This room was the setting for the grand concerts for which the palace was famous. The living room still contains the Empire grand piano decorated with golden appliqués.

The Ballroom, the last of the three largest rooms in the palace, (pictured below) was designed by Robillon in 1760. To create this oval room, the architect combined five smaller rooms. Rococo ormolu ornament takes the form of heavy gilt for the walls and ceiling, of such richness that it has been compared to François de Cuvilliés' amalienburg at Nymphenburg Palace. The walls and doors are mirrored and the painted and gilded, boxed ceiling is supported by gilded caryatids.

Ambassadors' Room
The Hall of Ambassadors ("Ambassadors' Room"), sometimes called the throne room or Hall of Mirrors, was designed by Robillon in 1757 and is one of the largest reception rooms in the palace. This long low room has a ceiling painted by Francisco de Melo that depicts the Portuguese royal family taking part in a concert during the reign of Queen Maria I. The room is extremely wide and light, spanning the entire width of the palace, with tall windows. On both sides. Between each window is a semi-circular golden console table above which are pier glasses adorned with crystal sconces. The dais throne, situated in an apse, is flanked by gilded, mirrored columns, and the floor is a checker plate pattern of black and white marble tiles.

During the occupation of the palace by Dom Pedro and D Maria I, the chapel was central to the daily life of their court. It was not by chance that the chapel was the first part of the palace to be completed and was consecrated as early as 1752. Religion was one of Dom Pedro's favorite interests. During his wife's reign he attended to spiritual matters and she to temporal matters. The queen's interest in religion, however, was no less feverish than her husband's—the couple attended mass several times a day. After Dom Pedro's death, the queen abandoned all festivities in the palace, and state receptions took on the air of religious ceremonies. Eventually the queen's instability and religious mania degenerated into complete insanity.

The chapel beneath its large onion dome is dark and cavernous and decorated with carved gilded wood, the detailing highlighted in red, green, blue and pink, by Portuguese sculptor Silvestre Faria Lobo. The upper level has galleries for the use of real characters who would sit in addition to the congregation. One of these galleries contains a small rococo pipe organ. A feature of the chapel is the ornate portable fountain, its marble basin resting in an elaborate rococo frame surmounted by a carved wooden cover.

Snack Room
This was the royal family's private dining room. The decor continues the theme used in some of the more formal and public rooms, with tile panels depicting courtiers in wild poses. These panels, like many other works in the palace, were produced by João Valentim and José Conrado Rosa.

Queen's boudoir
This was one of the private rooms used by Maria I during her time in Queluz. It is designed in the shape of a bower, with a lattice pattern on the ceiling that is reflected in the marquetry floor design (pictured below), giving the impression of being in a pergola rather than inside. The marquetry floors of the private rooms distinguish these smaller, more intimate rooms from the larger state rooms, where such delicate features would have been marred by more frequent use. The walls of the boudoir are heavily mirrored and contain overdoor cartouches and a mirror by José Conrado Rosa. Adjacent to the boudoir is the queen's bedroom; it was from this light and airy room that the queen's deranged screams were reported by William Beckford, who visited the palace in 1794.

King's Room
The King's Bedroom (pictured below) has been described as one of the most "fantastic" rooms in the palace. Although really square, it gives the illusion of being completely circular, with a mmed ceiling supported by columns of mirrored glass. Between the columns are cartouches depicting scenes from the tales of Don Quixote. Pedro IV died in this room in 1834, the same room where he was born in 1798. The room contains a large bust of the king showing his "pendulous jowls and unattractive face".



Queluz is famous for the glory of its gardens, which include a large part of topiaries arranged in the manner of Le Nôtre at the back of the palace. Flemish influences, including canals, in the garden are the work of Dutch gardener Gerald van der Kolk, who helped Robillon from the 1760s onwards. Formal terraces and walkways are given extra interest by statuary and fountains. The dominant feature of the main parterre is the "Pórtico dos Cavalinhos", a garden temple flanked by two allegorical equestrian statues representing Fames, and two sphinxes (see final illustration) dressed surreally in 18th century attire, combining the formal and the fantastic. This surreal theme continues elsewhere in the gardens where motifs such as the rape of the Sabines and the death of Abel alternate with statuary of donkeys dressed in human clothing. Deeper in the gardens is a grotto complete with a waterfall. Later, to be a popular feature in Portuguese gardens, the Queluz waterfall was the first artificial waterfall to be built near Lisbon.

An avenue of enormous magnolias forms the approach to the classic Robillon wing of the palace, while from the wing a double staircase leads to the canal. Over 100 meters long, the canal walls are decorated with tile panels depicting seascapes and associated scenes. This is the largest in a series of canals in the gardens bordered with chinoiserie-style tiles. Fed by a stream, the sluice gates to the canals are only open in May. During the 18th century, the canals were the setting for fêtes champêtres during which fully equipped ships would sail in processions with figures on board in allegorical costumes.

The gardens also contain a fountain with newts and dolphins that has been attributed to Bernini. There are other fountains and statuary in the lower gardens, including an important collection of statues by the British sculptor John Cheere (1709–1787). These gardens are situated within tall hedges of mistletoes, cypresses, magnolias and mulberry trees planted by Marshal Junot during the French occupation in the Napoleonic Wars.


Later history

After a fire at Palácio da Ajuda in 1794, Prince Regent João VI and his wife Carlota Joaquina began to use the Palace of Queluz. The Robillon wing was expanded and given an upper floor for the use of the princess and her nine children. These additions were destroyed in the fire of 1934. To escape the forces of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1807, the Portuguese royal family abandoned Queluz and fled to Brazil. The French occupying forces took control of the palace and its commander, General Junot, made several changes to the building. On the royal family's return from exile in 1821, the king preferred to live in Mafra, leaving his wife, the Spanish queen Carlota Joaquina, to occupy Queluz with his aunt Princess Maria Francisca Benedita. The king visited Queluz infrequently. It was on one of these rare visits that João VI died in 1826.

Carlota Joaquina, sometimes described as sinister, is considered ambitious and violent. Her features were supposedly ugly, and she was of short stature. Whatever her shortcomings, she lived in style in Queluz, employing an orchestra that William Beckford described as the finest in Europe. The queen also had a small private theater in the gardens, of which nothing remains to this day. She died in the palace in 1830.

After the death of Carlota Joaquina, Queluz saw only intermittent use as a royal residence and was not again the primary residence of Portuguese royalty. Carlota Joaquina's son, King Miguel, used the palace during the three-year civil war, which he fought against his brother, King Pedro IV.

National Monument
Since 1940 it has been open to the public as a museum. It houses much of the former royal collection, including furniture, Arraiolos rugs, paintings, and Chinese and European ceramics and porcelain.

State guest house
In 1957, the Rainha Maria I Pavilion was renovated to serve as the official guest house of the Portuguese government, for visits by heads of state and government. The visit of Queen Elizabeth II in 1957 was one of the main motivating factors in renovating the pavilion into a state guest house.[