The National Palace of Queluz with its historic gardens, is a royal residence of the 18th-century, located close to both Sintra and Lisbon. Its significant collection reflects the taste of the 18th and 19th century courts and includes baroque, rococo and neo-classical pieces. It is definitely a landmark of Portuguese architecture and landscaping.
At the origin of the palace is the former “Casa de Campo de Queluz” (Queluz Country House), a summer retreat that was built by Cristóvão de Moura, the first Marquis of Castelo Rodrigo, who helped the Spanish crown in the annexation of Portugal. His son Manuel de Moura (1592-1652) enlarged the mansion, that was later confiscated after the restoration of Portuguese independence in 1640 and handed over to Prince Pedro, future King Pedro II (1648-1706).
During the reign of King João IV (1604-1656), Prince Francisco (1691-1742) was responsible for further expansion of the property and for the catchment of water, including the construction of the still existing aqueduct.
But the property acquires the dimensions of a true Royal Palace, by the action of prince Pedro (1717-1786), the future king “Consorte” Pedro III, who devotes constant and dedicated attention to Queluz, in a direct involvement that only ended with his death.
In the 18th century, Queluz became the royal family’s favorite place for leisure and entertainment. They lived there permanently from 1794 until their departure for Brazil in 1807, at the time of the French invasions.
The different green spaces form a harmonious whole with the buildings themselves, whose facades face the French-style gardens. Numerous statues inspired by themes of classical mythology decorate and mark the paths of these ornamental gardens. Also an appreciable group of stone and lead sculptures was brought from Italy and England. Along with these elements, there are numerous potted plants, a number of particularly bold lakes and fountains.
Inside the palace, the rooms, chapels and private apartments follow each other, all enjoying privileged connections to the gardens. Elegant gilded wood carvings, rich papier-mache finishes, elaborately framed mirrors and paintings, and incredibly sparkling chandeliers, as well as other treasures on display, reflect the sophisticated atmosphere of the golden age.
The first period in which the Palace was inhabited corresponds to the period of residence of King Pedro III and Queen Maria I. At this time, there was a great emphasis on recreation and entertainment. The various spaces had to be extremely versatile. They were being characterized according to the different events held.
The Court used to go to Queluz to attend the serenades, a fireworks display party, particularly at “São João”, “São Pedro”, and the day of the name of King Pedro III, on July 5. Equestrian games and bullfighting also took place, on horseback or on foot, especially between 1752 and 1786. In all these celebrations, music always played a central role.
During the French invasions, the Royal Family made an abrupt retreat to Brazil in 1807, a day before Napoleon’s troops, under Genral Junot’s command, finally entered Lisbon and this ended with the liveliest period of residence at the Palace. Much of the nobility left with the royal family, so many national treasures were also removed from the country, including much of the palace’s contents.
Junot himself visited the palace to introduce some changes to the building, which further fueled the dream that Napoleon Bonaparte might one day live there.
King Miguel (1802-1866) also lived in the Queluz Palace during the fratricidal wars he fought with his brother Pedro IV (1798-1834), the first emperor of Brazil and the first Portuguese constitutional monarch. After his liberal victory, King Pedro IV died here prematurely as a victim of tuberculosis.
From 1957, the east wing attached to the Palace, it began to be used as a residence for foreign Heads of State during official visits to Portugal.
The Portuguese School of Equestrian Art, founded in 1979, was established in the Queluz National Palace Gardens to support the teaching, practice and promotion of traditional Portuguese equestrian art.
In 2004, the “World Monuments Fund” began a program to restore the lead sculptures, as well as some of the other features of the garden.
In 2018, the rehabilitation of the Queluz National Palace Botanical Garden was among the winners of the year, for the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage, “Europa Nostra Awards”.
Open every day from 09:00 to 18:00 (low season) or 19:00 (high season).