Ajuda Palace
Palácio da Ajuda
Lisbon, the Palácio Nacional da Ajuda.JPG
A monument to King Carlos I in front of the main façade of Ajuda Palace.
Palace of Ajuda is located in Lisbon
Palace of Ajuda
Location of the palace within the municipality of Lisbon
General information
StatusRoyal Palace, Museum
Architectural styleBaroque
Town or cityLisbon
Country Portugal
Coordinates38°42′27.34″N 9°11′53.98″W / 38.7075944°N 9.1983278°W / 38.7075944; -9.1983278Coordinates: 38°42′27.34″N 9°11′53.98″W / 38.7075944°N 9.1983278°W / 38.7075944; -9.1983278
Opened17 July 1795
OwnerPortuguese Crown (1795-1910) Portuguese Republic (1910-present)
Technical details
Design and construction
ArchitectGiacomo Azzolini
Known forRoyal Residence

The Palace of Ajuda (Portuguese: Palácio da Ajuda, Portuguese pronunciation: [ɐˈʒudɐ]) is a neoclassical monument in the civil parish of Ajuda in the city of Lisbon, central Portugal. Built on the site of a temporary wooden building constructed to house the Royal family after the 1755 earthquake and tsunami, it was originally begun by architect Manuel Caetano de Sousa, who planned a late Baroque-Rococo building. Later, it was entrusted to José da Costa e Silva and Francisco Xavier Fabri, who planned a magnificent building in the modern neoclassical style.

Over time, the project underwent several periods when the construction was stopped or slowed due to financial constraints or political conflicts. When the Royal Family had to flee to Brazil (in 1807), following the invasion of Portugal by French troops, the work proceeded very slowly with Fabri taking charge of the project, later followed by António Francisco Rosa. Lack of financial resources would also result in the scaling down of the project. The construction of the Ajuda Palace, which began in 1796 and lasted until the late 19th century, was a project plagued by various political, economic and artistic/architectural problems.[1] It was invaded by Napoleon's troops in 1807, and discontinued by Liberal forces who imposed a constitutional monarchy that reduced the power of the royal family.[1] Artistically, it was a convergence of the Baroque styles from Mafra, very connected to regal authority, with the birth of the Neoclassic style from Italy.[1] Further interruptions occurred, due to a lack of funds, political sanctions or disconnection between the workers and the authorities responsible for the project.[1] The project was modified several times, but was generally authored by Manuel Caetano de Sousa (the last Baroque architect) and, later, Costa e Silva and Fabri, both of them Bolognese architects whose tastes crossed the architectural spectrum, but in which Neoclassicism predominated.[1]

When the palace finally became a permanent residence of the royal family during the reign of King Luis I and his wife, Maria Pia of Savoy, their architect, Possidónio da Silva, introduced many aesthetic changes and turned one of the lateral façades into the main one.

Most of the palace interiors were designed during King Luis I’s reign by his wife, Queen Maria Pia and Possidónio da Silva.

Maria Pia lived in the palace from the day she became Queen of Portugal, in 1862, until the republican Revolution in 1910, when the royal family was forced into exile.


A depiction of how the Palace was originally meant to look like once completed (detail of an 1802 portrait of the Prince Regent, by Domingos Sequeira).
A depiction of how the Palace was originally meant to look like once completed (detail of an 1802 portrait of the Prince Regent, by Domingos Sequeira).
A plan of the Ajuda Palace (1866), by the Association of Portuguese Civil Architects
A plan of the Ajuda Palace (1866), by the Association of Portuguese Civil Architects
An 1870 illustration of the Ajuda Palace, during its time as residence to the Royal Family of King Luís
An 1870 illustration of the Ajuda Palace, during its time as residence to the Royal Family of King Luís

In 1726, King John V of Portugal acquired three estates in the parish of Belém: one became the Palace of Belém; on the second parcel an Oratory, which was eventually expanded, becoming the Palace of Necessidades; and the third reserved for a summer residence that never materialized during his reign.[2]

On 1 November 1755, the day of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, the Royal Family was in Belém, and escaped the destruction of Lisbon by the earthquake and tsunami. Perturbed by the events, King Joseph refused to live under a residence of masonry,[2] and took refuge in a wooden cabin next to the Palace of the Counts of Óbidos (packed with tapestries from the Quinta de Baixo). As the Royal family continued to fear for the viability of the Ribeira Palace in Lisbon, the King ordered the construction of a more permanent wooden building in the heights of Alto da Ajuda;[3] the architects Petrónio Mazzoni and Veríssimo Jorge began building an elaborate structure from wood collected from the Vale de Figueira pinery.[2] The Real Barraca (Royal Tent), or Paço de Madeira (Wooden Palace) was completed on 20 September 1761 (and the first baptism was held in its chapel), but, owing to risk of collapse, the theatre (which was considered a risk by architect João Carlos Bibiena) was reconstructed from 1767 to 1786 by Giacomo Azzolini. The court remained at this site for nearly three decades, in a luxurious atmosphere of the golden age of enlightened despotism, until the King's death in 1777.[2][3] Since his successor, Queen Maria I of Portugal lived with Peter III in the Palace of Queluz at the time of Joseph's death, the Royal Barraca was vacated.[2]

In November 1794, during the reign of Queen Mary I and the Prince-Regent, the royal tent was destroyed by fire, although the fire-fighters were able to save the library and church.[3] A more permanent dwelling was conceived by the architect José da Costa e Silva. Starting on 17 July 1795 the rubble and terrain was cleared, which continued on 27 July under the direction of António Vicente. The first cornerstone was laid on 9 November under the direction of Manuel Caetano de Sousa (with a secondary project under the supervision of German Xavier de Magalhães).[3] It was conceived as a Baroque-late Rococo building, but the construction was interrupted shortly after. As of 19 May 1796 the project was supplied by the masons Francisco António and Joaquim Baptista, who brought in stone from Monsanto (Idanha-a-Nova), sand from Alfeite, calcium oxide cooked in Alcântara, tile from the Alhandra, with limestone provided from Pêro Pinheiro, Belas, Vila Chã and Monsanto. The intervention of many architects resulted in a royal decree (9 December 1801) that stated that alterations to the project could only be made in agreement with Manuel Caetano de Sousa, Joaquim de Oliveira, José da Costa e Silva and/or Francisco Xavier Fabri (as long as it economized on the project costs). But, Manuel Caetano de Sousa designed an overcomplicated and intricate Baroque building (which was later criticized by Costa e Silva and Fabri in 1801). But, with mounting confusion and difficulties between the architects and contractors, on 21 January 1802, José da Costa e Silva and Fabri were invited by the Crown to present a new project, in conjunction with António Francisco Rosa and Manuel Joaquim de Sousa, while excluding Manuel Caetano de Sousa.

In 1802 Manuel Caetano de Sousa died, and by 26 June, Costa e Silva and Fabri were appointed official architects.[1][2][3] Costa e Silva and Fabri respected what was already constructed, but introduced necessary alterations to change the Royal Palace into a more dignified, serious and majestic building. Consequently, the plan was simplified and reduced to a core structured around two courtyards, with the same level of ornamentation, but now much more refined.[1][3]

On 2 July 1802, the monarch solicited the Marquis of Alorna to study the future paintings that would occupy its walls. Domingos Sequeira and Vieira Portuense were contracted to paint the property, accompanied by Joaquim Gregório da Silva Rato, Manuel Prieto, Taborda, Fuschini and Calisto, while Italian decorators Manuel da Costa and Giuseppe Viale were hired to decorate the mansion. Similarly, sculptors Machado de Castro (who created three sculptures), Carlo Amatucci (some), João José de Aguiar, and his assistant Gregório Viegas (executed ten statues), Joaquim José de Barros Laborão and Manuel Joaquim Laborão (completed six statues), while Faustino José Rodrigues and his son, Francisco Assis Rodrigues, were contracted to complete three sculptures. In 1803, Carlos Amatucci completed the sculpture of Liberdade.

Peninsular Wars

The eastern façade (and main entrance) to the Palácio Nacional da Ajuda
The eastern façade (and main entrance) to the Palácio Nacional da Ajuda

By 1807, the painters, sculptors and decorators had been contracted, but the arrival of Junot's forces immediately stopped the build as the Royal Family fled to Brazil (Rio de Janeiro).[1] Yet, Junot insisted that the building should continue.[2] But in 1809, the French invasion of the Portuguese territory finally caused the suspension of the project. By 1812, Francisco Fabri returned to chef the project, since José da Costa e Silva had also joined the Royal Family in Brazil.[2] Fabri's model was based on the Palace of Caserta in Naples, designed by Luigi Vanvitelli.[1] He envisioned an ample palace design, directed South, towards the Tagus River, with four main towers at its angles: the works restarted in 1813.

In 1814 and 1815 work progressed in the rooms and staircases that were completed, with Taborda, Fuschini, Calisto, Cyrillo Volkmar Machado (and his assistant Oliveira Góis), and Máximo Paulino dos Reis as painters, while decorator Manuel Piolti took over the interior layout. In 1814, Cyrillo painted the Sala do Dossel. In April 1815, the quarry of Lameiras was appointed to extract rock for the columns of the main floor.

Manuel Caetano da Silva Gaião joined the project in 1815 to assist the team. In 1817, Francisco Fabri died, and was replaced by his assistant, António Francisco Rosa, who was forced by the Royal Treasury to curb the scope of the project. Several individual projects were completed in 1818: Domingos Sequeira returned to direct the painting of the palace; the model for the south tower, authored by José Joaquim de Sousa was completed; on 26 September the vaulted ceiling was erected in the vestibule; and on 12 November, the decorative works in the Sala dos Embaixadores (Ambassador’s Hall) were cleaned by contractors Severiano Henrique Pereira and Francisco de Paula.

King John VI, still in Brazil, began to show interest in the project, and presented the designs to his local architects Grandjean de Montigny and João da Silva Moniz. When António Francisco Rosa took over the work in 1818, the project progressed at a slightly accelerated pace, on the assumption that the Royal Family would return.[1][3] But, the Cortes were insecure about the expenses in completed Ajuda.[1]

On 11 January 1819, ten new flourishments in the Ambassador’s Hall were executed by António Joaquim de Faria and the contractors Francisco de Paula, Severiano Henrique Pereira and Leandro Gomes. On 15 February, in the Sala dos Archeiros (Archer's Hall), the painters Vicente Paulo Rocha and João de Deus Moreira, painted the base boards, following the designs of Manuel Piolti (since José Francisco Ferreira quit the project). By May, Cyrillo proposed a new eastern façade, with a triangular apex and allegorical sculptures, alluding to the expulsion of the French during the Peninsular Wars, but the project was dropped. Between 1819 and 1920, sculptures of Justice and Prudence were completed by João José de Aguiar; the ceilings of the Archer's Hall and Cane Concierge's Hall by José da Cunha Taborda (1766–1836) were completed, its doors first started by Manuel Piolti (1770–1823); the metal shields on the doors were provided by the Army arsenal; the ceiling of the Hall of Spanish Tapestries by Cyrillo Volkmar Machado, with perspectives by Manuel Piolti, figures by Joaquim Gregório da Silva Rato and ornamentation by André Monteiro da Cruz; skirting by bronzer and gilder Pierre Philippe Thomire (1751–1843); the ceiling of the antechamber of the Sala do Despacho (Order Room) was completed by André Monteiro da Cruz and José da Cunha Taborda. In 1820, a new project for the south and eastern façades was authorized, which included a system of ramps and staircases created by António Francisco Rosa. Metalsmiths João Pereira and Manuel António, and carpenter José Joaquim de Sousa completed the project.[3]

On 27 July 1820, a meeting was held by the Royal Palace inspector, Joaquim da Costa e Silva, Cyrillo Volmar Machado, Germano António Xavier de Magalhães, António Francisco Rosa and Manuel Caetano da Silva Gayão to decide upon the first design for the eastern façade, or a new composition by Volkmar Machado. During these meetings the project for the vestibule was approved; the decoration of the Sala da Tocha (Torch Room), its access ramps and staircase; and the painting designs for the rooms by Manuel Piolti, which were executed by Anacleto José Narciso, Eugénio Joaquim Álvares, Eusébio de Oliveira, João de Deus, José António Narciso, José Tomás and Vicente Paulo.

By 1821, when John VI of Portugal returned from Brazil, the Palace had not yet been completed, and only permitted some state and ceremonial protocols (such as John's investiture in the Order of the Garter in 1823).[2] Consequently, John VI decided to live in the Bemposta Palace.[2] With a new simplification of the plans, architect António Francisco Rosa continued the structural works. During this phase, painters José da Cunha Taborda, Sebastião José Alves, José Joaquim de Sousa, Bernardino de Sena Lemos da Rocha, Arcangelo Fuschini, Máximo Paulino dos Reis, Joaquim Gregório da Silva Rato, Manoel Piolti, João Pereira, José Pedro de Carvalho, and mason António Joaquim de Faria worked at the palace. In 1823, the staircase was decorated by painter Norberto José Ribeiro, and in 1825 Joaquim Rafael became head painter.

The palace began to be used as a Royal Residence in 1826, when the Infanta Isabel Maria, Regent on behalf of the young Queen Maria II, moved in.[1][2] It was proposed to the architects that the project's scale be reduced, encompassing only one-third of the original design, making the eastern façade the main entrance and erecting a tower at the southern end.[1] Its plan now reduced in half, it included one block, the construction of which was immediately interrupted by the Liberal victory in 1833.[1]

In 1827, Piolti dies, leaving behind the decorative painter António Inácio Vieira in charge of the interior design. Work on site began, and quickly ended in 1828, by the English mason John Johnston. He was responsible for theEnglish staircase, but was mysteriously removed from the project to be replaced by Nicolau Pires. In 1830, António Joaquim de Faria, responsible for many of the stonework within the palace, also died. Similarly, three years later, Sebastião José Alves died, being succeeded by Joaquim José Ventura Alves.

During the second half of the 19th century, new works in the Palace were specifically done to adapt the existing space to a permanent Royal Family residence: the windows in the antechamber of the Sala do Despacho were completed by Paul Sormani; new lace draperies from Switzerland were hung in the windows; the Quarto de D. Luís (D. Luís Room) was partitioned, with a lowered ceiling, and used as an office space with washroom; the Sala de Trabalho do Rei (King's Study) was decorated with a new rug, produced by the English firm Thomas Bontor & Company, which also produced new rugs for the Sala Chinesa (Chinese Hall); also, the older Sala de Bilhar (Billiard Room) was divided into two rooms: the Sala Chinesa (Chinese Room) and the Sala Império (Imperial Hall).

Liberal Wars

These changes were primarily due to the increase use of the palace. In 1828 Miguel of Portugal was acclaimed by the Portuguese Estates General in the Cortes Hall (today the Dining Room).[3] Miguel also inhabited the palace for six months as the royal residence, the Palace of Necessidades, underwent remodelling.[2][3]

The move of the Royal Court to Queluz in 1829, and the death of the architect Rosa, resulted in a slowing of the project, and the affected the north wing which fell into ruin.[2]

With the start of Liberal and Absolutist factionalism, the country entered into a period of fragile stability, and the project, already moving slowly, stopped in 1833 with the entry of liberal forces in Lisbon.[2][3]

With the restored Liberal regime, Peter IV took over as Regent until his daughter's age of majority, swearing allegiance to the Constitutional Charter in the throne room on 30 August 1834.[2][3] Peter attempted to complete the palace, under the revised plan of Joaquim Possidónio Narciso da Silva,[2] but was unsuccessful. Yet, some projects continued inside the building: in 1836, the antechamber of the Sala do Despacho with scenes of Diana by André Monteiro da Cruz was completed; in 1837, several paintings were repaired by Joaquim Rafael; in 1844, busts of the monarchs in wax were ordered, by Joaquim Rafael; and the sculpture of Inocência by Benedetto Delisi was executed in 1860.

Royal residence

Joaquim Possidónio Narciso da Silva, one of the many architects that were involved in the construction, remodelling and renovations at the Ajuda Palace over time
Joaquim Possidónio Narciso da Silva, one of the many architects that were involved in the construction, remodelling and renovations at the Ajuda Palace over time

Following the tragic deaths of members of the Royal Family in 1861 from typhoid fever, there were many who counselled King Luís to abandon the Palace of Necessidades.[2] After being acclaimed King (22 December 1861), Luís moved temporarily with to the Palace of Paço de Arcos, while remodelling occurred at Ajuda to adapt the building to become the new Royal Residence.[2][3] At the same time, a match was made between Luís and Maria Pia of Savoy, daughter of King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy, who were married in 1861; on 16 April 1862, the new King and his wife, moved into the Palace transforming it into the formal Royal Residence.[2][3]

In order to become liveable, the King directed Possidónio da Silva and Costa Sequeira to renovate and remodel the building, primarily based on the tastes of the Queen.[2] The old Sala do Dossel, the audience hall, was renamed the Sala das Tapeçarias Espanholas, because of the Spanish three crystal chandeliers were installed in the hall on the occasion of the marriage of Luís and Maria Pia of Savoy. An interior vestibule was transformed into a Winter Garden(Portuguese: Jardim de Inverno). Possidónio da Silva also covered the ceiling murals with a painted ceiling covered in genies, sphinx and chimeras, on which were later applied agate and chalcedony stones (gifts from the Viceroy of Egypt) in addition to Portuguese marble. The Sala do Fumo (Smoking Room) was constructed in carved wood. The Sala Azul (Blue Room) was decorated tapestries found in the space (which were produced by the Real Fábrica de Santa Bárbara de Madrid with designs by Francisco de Goya). These tapestries were a gift from Spain in 1785, in honour of the royal wedding of the Prince John VI and Carlota Joaquina. Similarly, the as a reception room, and the workers tore up gold wallpaper and replaced the painted cornice with a real one. In the office adjacent to the Winter Garden, the walls were lined in pink velvet to house a collection from Saxony and the ceiling stucco was painted with representations of birds and views of Italy and Lisbon, by Giuseppe and Cinatti Achille Rambois, while the furniture was selected by Krieger, Suc. Racault of Paris. The Sala Verde (Green Room) received new ceiling stucco with bas-relief ornamentation and gold-leaf. Renovations also proceeded in the palace chapel, Queen's washroom and dining room by Leandro Braga, who was also assisted by Atelier responsible for the King's painting studio and personal library. It was during this remodelling that the painting Chegada de D. João VI, in the ballroom by the artist Fuschini disappeared.

In the meantime, on 28 September 1863, the Infante Carlos (later King Carlos of Portugal) was born in the Sala Verde (Green Room).

Other additions to the palace followed in subsequent years: in 1863, a bust of Maria Pia was executed by Santo Varni; an inlaid table was completed by Focentino Eugenio Azgnani (a wedding gift to Maria Pia, from the city of Faenza); in 1865, the execution of the sculpture by Musidora Odoardo Fantachiotti (1809–1877); Maria Pia solicited Possidónio da Silva to substitute the painting in the ceiling of the Sala de Música (Music Room), the allegorical scene painted by José da Cunha Taborda and Arcangelo Fuschini, was substituted by one commissioned by Felisberto António Botelho; the Sala Azul (Blue Room) was lined in silk; in 1866, a marble statue, Tangedoura do Pandeirowas completed by Giovanni Dupré (1817–1882); in 1867, the parquet floor in the Sala do Despacho and Sala dos Contadores was completed by Godefroy, a joiner in the Belgian Royal House; the execution of the sculpture Mulher com bilha à cabeça by Anatole Calmels; the execution of a bust of King Luis, also by Anatole Calmels; in 1869, the execution of the sculpture Leda by Césare Sighinolfi; a painting of the King was also completed of the King by the painter António Rodrigues da Silva; in 1870, Maria Pia mascarada by Joseph Layraud; in 1873, work on the parquet floor in the Sala Azul (Blue Room) by Joseph Godefroy; in 1874, paintings of the Princes Carlos and Afonso in the Sala Rosa (Pink Room) were completed by Joseph Layraud.[3]

By the end of the 19th century, new exterior restorations had begun, under the direction of Domingos Parente da Silva, while new additions continued within the interior: in 1875, a sculpture of Maria Pia was completed by Césare Sighinolfi; in 1876, a painting in miniature of Luís and Maria Pia by Michele Gordigiani; in 1879, a new parquet floor in the Sala do Archeiros (Archer's Hall) and the Sala do Porteiro da Cana by Mardel Magalhães was begun; a painting of a canvas representing Humberto I by A. Jangiovanni was also installed in the same year; in 1881, the sculpture O Saltimbanco by Simões de Almeida was executed; in 1886, the a sculpture of Victor Emmanuel II, by Joaquim Santos; in 1887, paintings over the doors of the Queen's vanity by Ernesto Condeixa; in 1890, the portrait of Infante Carlos for the ante-chamber of the Sala do Despacho was completed by José Malhoa; in 1891, a new marble floor for the Sala dos Embaixadores (Ambassador's Hall) commission by António Moreira Rato & Filhos was installed;

After the death of her husband, Queen Maria Pia continued to live in the palace with her son, the Infante Afonso.[2][3] Although King Carlos of Portugal began to reside in the Palace of Necessidades, the palace (although residence of the Queen Mother) was reserved for official ceremonies, including banquets and receptions, such as those in honour of Edward VII of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Alfonso XIII of Spain, German Emperor Wilhelm II and President Emile Loubet of France.[2][3] Carlos made few changes to the Palace, although he was responsible for ordering two large pots in Berlin from the Parisian factory of the Duke d'Angoulême, for the Sala do Trono (Throne Room). Similarly, on the occasion of the King Edward VII's visit, he also ordered new chairs for Sala da Ceia (Dining Room). Manuel II remained in residence at the Palace of Necessidades following the death of the King and Crown Prince in the Lisbon Regicide, during the tumultuous years before the revolution.[3]


With the 5 October 1910 Revolution all work on the Palace ceased and was closed,[3] beginning a new phase of neglect that would later result in the flooding of the library by rainwater in 1925.

In 1934, Duarte Pacheco commissioned Raul Lino to develop a plan to complete the building, which was deferred owing to the costs associated with the project. But the Republican government did inventory many of the furniture and artwork, and along with many of artefacts from other Palaces, stored them in the Ajuda Palace.[2] In 1938 the Palace was opened as a museum, and in 1954 the Casa Forte (Vault) was opened in order to exhibit the Portuguese Crown Jewels and silverware of the Royal Household.[2]

Another attempt to renovate the Palace was proposed in 1944, in a new project by Raul Lino, but never materialized, and in 1956, Arantes e Oliveira commissioned Raul Lino, once again to elaborate a new project. The Serviços dos Monumentos Nacionais (National Monument Services) branch examined the building to determine its condition (in 1956), which also predicted a large investment to completely restore the palace. After a period of restricted access (between 1940 and 1968), when only people who had an authorization card from the Direcção Geral da Fazenda Pública (General Directorate of the Treasury), the palace was opened to the public on 20 August 1968.

A new green-space was created to enhance the front (eastern) façade of the building in 1961, but in 1974 a fire destroyed a significant part of the north wing. Between 23 and 24 September the fire consumed King Luís' painting gallery and part of the north wing, which included 500 paintings, including a self-portrait by Rembrandt.[2] It was partially transformed into a museum in 1968, and served as the headquarters of the Ministry of Culture (Portuguese: Ministério da Cultura), IPPAR and IPM.[2]

In 1989, the president of the IPPC, invited civil engineer Garcia Lamas and architect Gonçalo Byrne to elaborate a project to finish the Palace. The designers created two maquettes and various plans, which envisioned the completion of the uncompleted wings and the extension of the gardens to the Jardim das Damas (Lady's Garden). The plan would also include the construction of two residential zones nearby that would cover 75% of the work.

On 26 May 1992 the palace was assigned to the Portuguese Institute of Architectural Heritage (Portuguese: Instituto de Gestão do Património Arquitectónico e Arqueológico), under Decree-Law 120/92. The palace's bibliothèque is the namesake for the Cancioneiro da Ajuda.


The interior façade from the Palace courtyard looking towards the statue of King Carlos of Portugal
The interior façade from the Palace courtyard looking towards the statue of King Carlos of Portugal
The southwest corner of the courtyard, showing the wall of the incomplete western wing
The southwest corner of the courtyard, showing the wall of the incomplete western wing

The Ajuda National Palace is located on a hilltop of the central part of the parish of Ajuda overlooking the historic centre of Lisbon and Tagus River, south of the Monsanto Forest Park. Its main access way in theLargo da Ajuda on the eastern side of the property, but it is also transited by the Calçada do Mirante à Ajuda (north) and Rua dos Marcos (west). Although the Palace occupies a block on the heights of Ajuda, its delineated space extends to several gardens and lands around the main building. This includes: the Jardim das Damas (Lady's Garden) fronting the northern façade of the Palace; the Sala da Física (Physics Hall), in the north-eastern corner fronting the Palace; the clock-tower, also known as the Torre do Galo (Rooster's Tower), isolated in front of the Palace; and the larger Jardim Botânico (Botanical Garden), southwest and across the street from the Palace.


One of the earliest neoclassical buildings in Lisbon, the palace is an irregular rectangular building, divided into four wings (with the western wing being incomplete) around a large quadrangle, paved with Portuguese calçada in geometric designs. Each wing is occupied by distinct entities: the eastern and southern wings are occupied by museum exhibitions of the Palace of Ajuda; the northern wing belongs to the installations of the Instituto de Museus e Conservação (Institute of Museums and Conservation), the Instituto de Gestão do Património Arquitectónico e Arqueológico (Institute for Architectural Management and Archaeological Heritage), part of the Secretaria-Geral do Ministério da Cultura (General Secretariat of the Ministry of Culture), the Ajuda Library and a gallery for temporary exhibits.

The building evolved to a two-three storey structure, on an inclined plot of land, with a façade of ashlar limestone. The main symmetrical façade is oriented towards the east, with a central body and tympanum, extending to two lateral towers. This façade is two floors high, the inferior level marked by three arches, surmounted by (and separated by) Tuscan-Ionian columns supporting the secondary floor/veranda. On the second floor of the main body, the space is protected by balusters protecting the three Roman arch-windows, surmounted by a frieze of garlands, and divided by six Tuscan-Ionic columns.

Between the central body and towers are eight panels consisting of two-floors and a mezzanine, each panel divided by two orders of columns: on the first floor Tuscan and on the second floor Tuscan-Ionic columns. The first floor windows are moulded and trimmed sills with cornices, while a similar number of windows on the upper floor have veranda-like railings, surmounted by smaller square windows. The three-storey towers are also divided by Tuscan and Tuscan-Ionic columns: the first floor, have three windows and sills with angular cornices on the outside and rounded cornices on the interior; the intermediary floor has a comparable number of windows, while the third floor windows are surmounted by smaller windows (much like on the panels). The southern lateral façade has three storeys, with 19 windows in succession, comparable to the main entrance, although there are a series of niches at the base. The uncompleted western façade show signs of vestiges of various dependencies with a wall of open window sills/arches with Tuscan pillars and access to the central courtyard by three rounded arches. Embedded in the vast foyer with a vaulted edge supported by Tuscan columns, has twenty-two marble statues, some signed and dated.

The vestibule is the main access to the Palace, the Library and Exhibition Gallery, which by is made through the vestibule, through a monumental staircase and rounded arches. The ample courtyard is paved in Portuguese calçada, and is surrounded by two four-storey tall wings (north and south): the main floor, with central arch and doorway is flanked by rectangular windows surmounted by smaller square windows; and the superior floors, are composed of veranda-windows with simple frames and cornices and balusters/guardrails.


The avant-garde Blue Room with visual effects that implied a greater grandeur
The avant-garde Blue Room with visual effects that implied a greater grandeur
View of the Winter Garden showing the interior pinnacle fountain
View of the Winter Garden showing the interior pinnacle fountain
The interior of the Green Room, used by the Queen for official duties
The interior of the Green Room, used by the Queen for official duties
Portrait of the Royal Family in the Green Room
Portrait of the Royal Family in the Green Room
Portrait of Victor Emmanuel II in the Red Room
Portrait of Victor Emmanuel II in the Red Room

The interior is laid out with interconnecting halls, with a central corridor of staircases and elevators.

On the main floor entrance hall, with a succession of the museum in lateral directions, there is a staircase beside two niches with the figures of Justiça and Prudência, which access the Sala dos Archeiros (Archers Hall) completed by Joaquim Machado de Castro and his disciples. On this floor, in a linear path, the visitor follows through the following chambers and halls:

First floor

Second floor

The main Throne Room on the second floor of the Palace, with two thrones reserved for King Luís and Queen Maria Pia
The main Throne Room on the second floor of the Palace, with two thrones reserved for King Luís and Queen Maria Pia
O Mouro by Marciano Henrique da Silva, in the private Library of the Palace
O Mouro by Marciano Henrique da Silva, in the private Library of the Palace
Painting of Queen Carlota Joaquina in the antechamber of the Throne Room
Painting of Queen Carlota Joaquina in the antechamber of the Throne Room

During State functions or celebrations, invited guests would enter via the vestibule and ascend the main staircase to the second floor of the Palace by way of the Escadaria Nobre. The enclosed staircase, is decorated with flourish carvings on the ceiling from the lower floor, which zigzags to the upper landing decorated with rounded stained glass with the royal coat of arms and painted ceiling. On the second floor of the palace lies:



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n IGESPAR - Instituto Gestão do Patrimonio Arquitectónico e Arqueológico, ed. (2011), Palácio Nacional da Ajuda (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal: IGESPAR, archived from the original on 16 July 2011, retrieved 12 July 2011
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Francisco Santana and Eduardo Sucena (1994), pp.25-27
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