The Ajuda National Palace is one of Lisbon’s most beautiful palaces.
Nevertheless, its construction was affected by several critical moments in Portuguese History, such as the country invasion by the french troops in 1807, and it has always existed somehow as a second choice for the Royal Family.
The palace construction begun in the 18th century, during King José’s reign. The city of Lisbon had just experienced one of its most tragic incidents, a major earthquake followed by a tsunami that devastated most of the city in 1755. By then, the Royal Family used to live in a palace by the river, Ribeira Palace in Terreiro do Paço, but was fortunate enough to be in Belém area by the time the earthquake occurred, otherwise they would have all died.
Terrified by these events, the King refused to go back to what was left of his old home and ordered that a palace would be built in Ajuda area, on top of a hill and in a place where the earthquake was less strong.
Furthermore, he asked for the palace to be made entirely out of wood so it could have a better chance to not fall apart in case another earthquake hit the city.
This wood structure, in a late Baroque-Rococo style, would eventually burn to the ground a few years later and a new building had to be planned, this time using another choice of materials and following a more modern style, the Neoclassical.
Several Kings were in charge of the country during the following decades but it was only in 1861, during the reign of King Luis I and his wife Maria Pia of Savoy, that the Ajuda National Palace finally became a permanent residence of the Royal Family.
It opened as a museum in 1968 and nowadays, besides being used for official state ceremonies, its ground floor and its first floor (the “Noble Floor”) can be visited by everyone.
Its sumptuous rooms recreate the atmosphere of a royal residence and display gorgeous and valuable decorative arts collections, with pieces from the 15th century until the 20th century.
> Largo da Ajuda
> Opens from 10:00 to 18:00 (last admission at 17:30) Closed: Wednesday, 1 January, Easter Sunday, 1 May and 25 December.
> Regular price: 5€ For discounts and combined tickets go to the Ajuda National Palace website.
> Insider tip: the Queen’s chapel, that remained closed for decades and decades but can now be visited, displays the only spanish painter El Greco work existing in Portugal.