The beautiful and stately Queluz National Palace near Lisbon, Portugal, is listed in historical records as existing since 1747 when architect Mateus Vincente de Oliveira initiated the construction of its first rooms. However, the major part of this grand palace was not completed until 1758 because construction was impeded by the Great Earthquake of 1755. Both the palace and its surrounding gardens and grounds are excellent examples of the favored style, design and taste of the Baroque period in history and society during the 18th century. This elegant, ornate structure and property have long been compared to the Palace of Versailles in France. Although there are distinct similarities between the two royal residences, the Queluz Palace has a very definitive Portuguese style and national identity.
Fascinating Historical Facts about the Palace and Gardens
The Palácio Nacional de Queluz is among the last of Portugal’s grand Rococo structures to be built in the country and in Europe. Designed as a summer home for Dom Pedro of Braganza, the palace was the place where Queen Maria I, Dom Pedro’s niece and wife, eventually was hidden away in her state of madness. The Palace at Queluz was later the primary residence of John VI, Prince Regent until the French invaded Portugal in 1807. At that time, the royal family escaped to Brazilin, a colony of Portugal.
The palace’s Pavilion of Dona Maria, designed by architect Manuel Caetano de Sousa, was constructed from 1785 to 1792. It is currently used as residence for the Queen’s son, D. José, Prince of Brazil when visiting Portugal. Today, the palace and its gardens, with their celebrated, ornate fountains and ponds, are constantly the setting for many government sponsored receptions and international conferences.
Interesting Structural Elements of the Grand Palace Design
The early architect of the palace’s beginnings, Oliveira, designed the Ceremonial Façade of the “corps de logis,” which is the rectangle-shaped block forming the core of the entire structure. He also created plans for several interior courtyard spaces. His successor, French master architect Jean-Baptiste Robillon, designed the ornamental gardens, the Rococo interiors and many of the palace buildings. This ornate façade became a famous example of the height of the Portuguese Baroque style. The façade also overlooks the noted Hanging Garden, which is on an elevated terrace, similar to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
The palace interiors have wall and ceiling paintings portraying various allegorical scenes and historical events. The numerous towering pavilions serving as links between the many wings of the palace and the more intimate rooms display colorful glazed tiles of polychrome, called azulejos. Rich Brazilian, Swedish and Danish woods along with beautiful stone from Genoa adorn much of the interior space. Unfortunately, the severe fire in 1934 caused harsh damage to many of the palace rooms. However, the palace as a whole has survived until the present time, offering much evidence of the elegance and lavish style of Portugal’s Baroque period in history.
Celebrated areas and rooms of Queluz Palace include the single surviving State Apartment, the Hall of Mantle; the grand Music Room with its golden gilded wood and its neoclassical style; the expansive and decorative oval Ballroom; the great Hall of Ambassadors (Sala dos Embaixadores) with its lush grandeur and royal portraiture; the spacious, beautiful Chapel with its famed onion dome, Rococo style pipe organ and marble font; and the intimate elegance of the lavish Private Apartments including the Queen’s Boudoir and the King’s Bedroom.
Lining a main walkway and drive within the exterior gardens are a pair of sphinxes in their surrealistic 18th century attire, as examples of the merging of formal and fanciful styles throughout the palace and its surroundings. The Largo do Palácio de Queluz facing the palace has changed very little since the 18th century, still lending itself to the charm and mystique of the grand palace. However, the town of Queluz has grown into a major suburban area of Lisbon. Without question, Queluz Palace remains a primary attraction for all who travel to Lisbon, and its elegant beauty and unique style will continue to enchant countless visitors for many years to come.