Ajuda National Palace, overlooking Tagus River
Ajuda National Palace is a neoclassic palace, once the royal residence, that still houses some of the biggest State ceremonies. It’s one of Lisbon’s symbols.
Ajuda National Palace (Palácio Nacional da Ajuda) brings back memories from my childhood, from the days I was lucky enough for having the opportunity to explore the amazingly beautiful rooms of this enchanted palace, dreaming I was a princess waiting for my Prince Charm. Well, those days are long gone, but the magnificence of the Palace still impresses me every time I visit it. No doubt it is one of the most majestic monuments in Lisbon.
Situated near Belem, where you can find Hieronymites Monastery and Belem Tower, Ajuda National Palace is an imposing example of the neoclassical architectural style from the first half of the 19th century, constructed on the location of a temporary wooden shelter built to house the Royal family after the 1755 earthquake. The construction was ordered to architect Manuel Caetano de Sousa, who planned a late Baroque-Rococo building. However, later the work was entrusted to José da Costa e Silva and Francisco Xavier Fabri, who changed the original plans and designed a neoclassical building, according to the latest architectonic style tendencies.
The construction works, that started in 1796 and went on until the 19th century, were interrupted by several reasons, either political such as the French Invasions or financial due to shortness of means.
At last, on King Luís I accession to the throne, the palace became a royal residence and remained as such until the end of the Monarchy. However, the building only came to live when the king married Maria Pia Princess of Savoy, who assigned royal architect Joaquim Possidónio da Silva with the task of changing the palace’s decorative interiors. New rooms were created, namely the winter garden, the Saxe and Chinese rooms, a dining room for the Royal family daily meals, as well as bathrooms with the most recent facilities that took into consideration the new standards of comfort and hygiene en vogue during the 19th century, such as cold and hot running water.
Up until the end of the Monarchy, the palace was stage of many important events such as the christening of the princes Carlos and Afonso, banquets, balls and gatherings of the State Counsel.
With the establishment of the Republic in 1910 and the exile of the Royal Family in Brazil, the palace was closed to be reopened as a Museum in 1968, maintaining most of the original furniture and artworks, thus depicting that magical and, at the same time, opulent ambience of the aristocratic times.
Ajuda National Palace still houses the most important State ceremonies held by the President of the Republic, such as banquets in honor of the highest dignitaries of other States.
Closed on Wednesdays, 1st January, Easter Sunday, 1st May and 25th December.
Open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.