Seteais Palace, an exclusive place
Seteais is an imposing palace in the amazing set of Sintra dating from the XVIII century, that nowadays is an exclusive and luxurious hotel
Just a kilometre away from Sintra, on the road from the romantic village to Malveira da Serra, is Seteais palace, a magnificent building that nowadays is one of the most famed and exclusive Portuguese hotels.
However, the palace’s history goes back to the XVIII century, when the Marquis of Pombal, the Minister of the Kingdom during the reign of Don José I, granted Daniel Gildemeester, the Dutch consul in Portugal, some lands in the outskirts of Sintra. Amazed by the landscape, the consul ordered the construction of a neoclassical building on the top of a hill with a view not just to village surroundings but also to the sea.
With the consul’s death, the property was sold to the 5th Marquis of Marialva, who added the east wing, also following the same architectural style. With this works, the palace took today’s form of a symmetrical U-shaped building. Even though the neoclassical trend was chosen for the palace, the romantic style was used at the gardens.
Years later, in 1802 to celebrate a visit of Prince regent John VI and his wife, Princess Carlota Joaquina, the Marquis of Marialva entrusted Francisco Leal Garcia with the task to build a triumphal arch to unite the old and the new wings. The arch is decorated with the bronze effigies of the royal couple.
Inside the palace walls the highlight goes to the frescos supposedly painted by the followers of Jean Pillement or even by the famous French painter himself.
The palace knew several owners until 1946 when it was purchased by the Portuguese government.
The legends of Seteais Palace
The aura of Seteais Palace is reinforced by several tales concerning the origin of its name that can be interpreted as “sete ais” (seven sighs).
One state that every time someone sighs here, the “ai” of the sigh echoes seven times forming “sete ais”.
There is another one more dramatic version: Supposedly one of the first Christian knights arriving at “Xentra” (Sintra) was Don Mendo de Paiva who found some Moors running away trough a secret door. Among the Moors there was a beautiful girl, who sighed with fear, leaving her maid very upset. Don Mendo decided to take her as a prisoner which made the girl sigh again. The maid, in despair, told the knight that the girl had been coursed by a witch and that she would die if she sighed seven times. But Don Mendo didn’t believe her and the girl sighed once more. Then she sighed for the fifth time when the Knight informed that they were both his prisoners and left to look for a place to incarcerate them.
Photo by pedro prats
Meanwhile a group of Moors appeared and with a single blow cut the maid’s head. The girl sighed again and finally she sighed for the last time when her own head was cut off. By the time the Christian knight returned the girl was already dead. Sorrowful, Don Mendo baptized the place as Seteais (seven sighs) in her honor.
Legends aside, the true origin of the name Seteais lays on the old word Centeais which meant field of rye, centeio in Portuguese.
Other views of Seteais Palace
Susan J. Smith on her blogsaid:
Our hotel, the Tivoli Palacio de Seteais, with spectacular views, was built in the late 18th century by the Dutch consul as a private home. It features lovely interior with delicate murals, grand staircases and antique furnishings. The staff was attentive, helpful and charming.
Even though being a hotel, visitors have free access to the wonderful gardens of Seteais, where some cultural events are held.
Seteais at Wikipedia