The Palacio de Queluz is often described as Portugual’s Versailles. While Versailles is grand and magnificent , I would suggest Queluz is exquisite with a touch of whimsy. Situated 12km. north west of Lisbon the palace is one of the last Rococco buildings to be designed in Europe. It was once a hunting lodge and converted to a royal Summer residence in the 1750’s . The palace was designed by Portuguese architect Mateus Vicente de Oliviera and French artist Jean Baptisite Robillion for Prince Dom Pedro and his niece who was also his wife Queen Maria 1st, who lived here for most of her reign.
We arrived right on opening time on a Saturday morning to be greeted by the sight of several children and their parents in the main foyer. It turned out other than a quick glimpse of a little girl dressed as a princess posing for photos in one of the bedrooms we didn’t see them again. It must have been the little girls birthday and a party was held in another part of the palace and garden.
In fact in complete contrast to Sintra , where we had spent the previous couple of days, the palace was almost deserted , just us and four Brits.
The interiors were just as exquisite as the exterior , reflecting the final extravagant period of Portuguese culture , resulting from the discovery of gold in the then Portuguese colony of Brazil.The chandeliers, mirrors and glorious painted ceilings were a sight to behold.
This is one of the private dining rooms with its table set with fine bone china with a gold leaf edge, crystal and decorated with Chinese antiques.
John is in the Sala das Mangas admiring the carriage set amid the tiled wall panels , each depicting a Portuguese colony.This is the only room in the state apartments to fully survive a fire in 1934.
As you would expect gilt , tapestry and royal portraits abound in the many areas of what were the private apartments.
This is the Hall of Ambassadors , designed by Robillon in 1757 , and is one of the largest reception rooms in the palace.There is a painted ceiling depicting the royal family attending a concert during the reign of Queen Maria 1st. The throne dais has gilded and mirrored columns and is then surrounded by black and white marble floors.
The Sala das Merendas was the royal families private dining room . The decoration continues the theme used in some of the more formal and public rooms.
Queluz is also famed for its magnificent formal gardens , now mostly restored with some exceptions such as this tiled canal but still exceptional in its faded glory. You can almost sense the royals frolicking here.
During the 18th. century the canals were settings for fetes during which fully rigged ships would sail in processions with figures aboard in costume, it must have been quite a sight.
I think the sphinx below, one of a pair, surreally dressed in her 18th. century garb, sums up Palacio de Queluz for me , it is both formal and elegant but also whimsical and magical and well worth a visit.