“Ajuda Palace is unique in the world because it remains to this day as an untouched testimony to what was a royal residence in the style of Napoleon III. All of the Palaces in Paris and London have been updated. The implantation of the Republic precipitated the exile of its last occupant, the Queen Maria Pia, and the closing of the Palace for decades. “
I have lived 5 years in Lisbon, but it was only on my last week in the city that I took some time to visit this monumental palace. The first time I learned about its existence was one of those days when I became a tourist in the city of Lisbon and took a bus to Ajuda, the neighbourhood where the palace is located. By that time I didn´t know that it was possible to visit the inside palace.
Ajuda Palace is not far from the delicious Pastéis de Belém. After filling your stomach with these delicious temptations, a 20-minute walk to Ajuda Palace even makes digestion easier. Consult Google Maps to get there.
As usual, apart from sharing the photos we take, we will do our best to be your guides in this virtual visit to the palace and its history.
History and Curiosities
The palace was closed in 1910 at the time of the establishment of the Republic in Portugal and exile of the royal family. It opened in 1968 to the public as a museum.
The history of the palace is closely linked to the earthquake of 1755. With this cataclysm, the sumptuous Paço da Ribeira, located by the river where the kings lived, succumbed to the forces of nature.
The royal family was then evicted and decided to have the new residence built in the area less affected by this natural disaster, the Ajuda area, which, like Belém, didn´t suffer as much damage as the rest of the city.
The King, Don Jose, decided that he wanted to live in a wooden palace, the so-called Royal Shack, for fear of future earthquakes. Well, he may have been safe from earthquakes, but he didn´t get rid of a fire. In 1794 an overwhelming fire destroyed the Royal Shack.
It was in the year of 1794 that it was decided to build a huge palace for the kings of Portugal, in the same area where the previous Royal Shack was located.
How huge is the palace? the palace has more than 200 rooms. Although not all are available to visit. Just over 30 are.
In 1794 it was happening the French Revolution. Napoleon was the one who ruled Europe in those days. Napoleon threatened to invade Portugal, demanded that we didn´t admit English ships in our country. Portugal didn’t obey, and Napoleon did invade Portugal.
It was in the year of 1807 that the Napoleonic forces occupied Lisbon. The king, the entire royal family and the government saw no other choice than to exile in Brazil to secure Portugal’s independence.
With the change of the court to Brazil, the capital of Portugal was then temporarily transferred to Rio de Janeiro. In addition to the transfer of the royal family, some of the real furniture was also transferred to Brazil.
With the exile of the royal family, the independence of Portugal may have been secured, but the same can no longer be said of the construction of the Ajuda Palace. The works in the palace began in the year of 1795. We are now in the year of 2017, more than 200 years have already passed and the construction isn´t yet fully finished. According to the news, we read in the Jornal Expresso the construction is expected to be finished in 2018.
Ajuda Palace was the permanent residence of the Portuguese monarchy during the reign of D. Luís, from 1861 to 1889. After king D. Luis, the succeeding kings preferred to live in the Palace of Necessities and in Belém.
D. Maria Pia, who came from Italy to marry Don Luis, was known for the great purchases she made for her house – Ajuda Palace. It is said that she was a generous queen not only with the purchases she made for her house but in everything she did. She also didn´t spare her generosity in charity.
“D. Maria Pia always ate all the food placed in her dish, whether there was too little or too much of it.”
D. Luís, her husband, ate a lot and accompanied everything with bread and butter.
Did you know that even today the banquets of the Presidency of the Republic are served in the Great Dining Room in the Ajuda Palace? It allows a maximum of 180 seats.
How to arrive?
As we mentioned at the beginning of the text, Ajuda Palace is not far from Belém. You can reach it by foot. It takes approximately 20 minutes, using Google Maps. Or you can take a public transport to get there.
Transportations- Carris Bus: 18; 729; 732; 742; 60
From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
(Last entry at 5:30 p.m.)
On Wednesday, January 1, Easter Sunday, May 1, June 13, and December 25.
This information was gathered from the Ajuda Palace official website.
Tickets cost € 5, but there are several discounts. Namely student discount.