Built on the top of a hill, far enough from the river and in an earthquake safe area, this Portuguese Royal Family residence is one of the most spectacular palaces you’ll find in our country. Majestic, rich and filled with stories, Ajuda National Palace stands out in the landscape.
Get ready to enter one of the few palaces in Europe where the royal family lived and where most features are kept exactly as the latest royal occupants left them!
In 1755 Lisbon was destroyed by an earthquake and a tsunami. The royal family escaped and the king decided to order the construction of a royal palace where the family could live, away from the impact area, in case another catastrophe like that happened.
After the earthquake, a wooden house was built to house the royal family. This house was located on the ground where, nowadays, you can find the Ajuda National Palace. The first works started under the command of Manuel Caetano de Sousa, an architect, who had planned a late Baroque-Rococo building. Years and different occupants later, the construction/renovation of the palace was entrusted to José da Costa e Silva and Francisco Xavier Fabri, who planned a majestic building, in the modern neoclassical style!
The building can be divided into the private area and the pubic area. The private area is the ground floor of the building, where you can find the royal family’s rooms. The public area, on the upper floor, was assigned to royal dinners, parties, state ceremonies, etc.
As you wander through the palace, between small and big rooms, clear and dark spaces, there’s something that will not pass unnoticed: the grandeur of the building and it’s interiors. As an architectural structure, this palace is totally overwhelming. Something that will totally catch your attention is the decorative elements: especially the amazing, exquisite and exclusive pieces of furniture.
Queen’s Portrait room
As you approach the Throne Room the divisions are more luxurious, more majestic. Here, the focal point is the portrait of Queen Maria Pia. The portrait picture the queen in blue and white, the Portuguese royal family. As interesting is the furniture: the sitting was used on board of the Príncipe Real, the ship that transported D.João VI and his entourage to Brasil, when the Napoleonic forces invaded the country.
This was the place where the highest representatives where received at the Ajuda National Palace. The room is majestic. The colors are dramatic. If you look up to the ceiling you will see the ‘Heroic Virtue’, an allegory on the exaltation of king João VI.
Records mention that when the king entered the room, the musicians would play the ‘Hino da Carta’, the national anthem at the time. Most of the furniture is Portuguese. The thrones were carved and finished in Portugal. The chandelier, in the center of the room, is the second most dramatic piece.
State Banquet room
Close your eyes. Breath in. Now, open your eyes and imagine yourself all dressed up, ready for a state banquet in an era of kings and queens! Take it easy, you don’t need to go that much back in time, remember?!
Look around. Appreciate the grandeur of this room. As the light hits the glass pendings, it is spread throughout the room because of the mirrors and silverware present in the decoration.
There are two objects that you should observe: the Samovar and the Glass Refresher. The Samovar is a Russian object, used to keep the water warm as tea is served. The Glass Refresher was a luxurious object. The glasses were kept in ice, in this refresher, as they would be cold when the drinks were served.
The last members of the royal family that inhabited the Ajuda’s National Palace really felt at home. And they lived the palace as a home. They enjoyed all the rooms and enjoyed spending time together, as a family.
The dining room on the ground floor is one of the places where you can really feel the atmosphere of the palace, it’s occupants and time! The table is set and it seems that the royal family is going to enter the door at any time!
The colors are dark oak and dark red. The table is set according to the rules set by a famous chef, at the time, who wrote a book called ‘ The art of serving at the table’. As you observe all the details, stop and take the time to look at the centerpiece! It’s absolutely gorgeous.