Ajuda National Palace
It was with the earthquake of 1755 that King D. José I (1714-1777) decided to install the court in Ajuda, an area that had escaped practically unscathed from the tragic incident. The Ajuda Palace, called the Royal Barrack of Ajuda, was initially built in wood to better withstand earthquakes, but it ended up – ironically – destroyed in a fire, giving way to what is now the Ajuda National Palace, although it was very different from the originally planned design as it was a slow and interrupted construction process. Built in the first half of the 19th century in a neoclassical style, it was only with King D. Luís I (1838-1889), alongside Queen D. Maria Pia of Savoy (1847-1911), that this palace was chosen as the official residence of the Portuguese royal family. And so it remained until the establishment of the Republic in 1910, when the royalty was forced into exile. The palace was closed, but in 1968 it opened to the public as a museum, preserving its history to this day, with the curiosity of having had an unfinished facade on the west wing facing Calçada da Ajuda for over 200 years. It was only in 2022, 226 years after the beginning of the construction, that the work was finished, with the installation of the Royal Treasure Museum, an old promise. The finishing project is by architect João Carlos dos Santos.
Today, the Ajuda National Palace is the only visitable palace in Lisbon that still preserves the layout and decoration of its rooms, making it easy to imagine life during that time, from the most private moments to the grand banquets. The interiors remain unchanged, showing the sophisticated taste of the queen, who was mainly responsible for the palace’s decoration. Throughout her life, D. Maria Pia kept buying jewelry, tapestry, furniture, ceramics, as well as painting, engraving, and sculpture, with the idea of enhancing her home. This important collection of decorative arts includes, for example, the only work by the Spanish painter El Greco in Portugal, an oil painting from the first quarter of the 17th century, exhibited in the private chapel, a place highly sought after by the queen after the death of D. Luís. In this palace, the princes D. Carlos (1863-1908) and D. Afonso (1865-1920) were born.
Reopening year of the Palace to the public
Year of completion of the facade
Thousand works in the Royal Library
The Royal Library, with a collection of more than 150,000 works, is also located in the Ajuda Palace, currently the seat of the Ministry of Culture. In addition, like the many court ceremonies and grand balls that used to take place, even today the Ajuda National Palace is the stage for numerous official events and solemn acts, from the Council of Ministers to the Council of State.
In the new wing, the royal treasure, that is, the possessions of the former Portuguese Royal House, is exhibited for the first time permanently, including works belonging to the Crown and those from the former private collections of various members of the royal family. The exhibit is divided into 11 parts: gold and diamonds from Brazil; coins and medals of the Crown; jewelry from the Ajuda National Palace collection; honorary orders; royal insignia – ritual objects of the monarchy; ceremonial silverware of the Crown; private collections, diplomatic gifts, royal chapel; Germain tableware and travels of the Royal Treasure.