In the summer months the Queluz National Palace hosts classical music concerts as part of the Sintra music festival
Queluz itself is a rather unremarkable suburb, but its extravagant palace was one of the last great Rococo buildings to be designed in Europe. It was built as a summer retreat for Dom Pedro of Bragança who became king consort to his own niece, Queen Maria I. Despite being far smaller, the Queluz National Palace is often referred to as the Versailles of Portugal.
Set in a cobbled square, the palace’s distinctive candy pink façade make it seem a rather fanciful confection. It does demonstrate the evolution of the Portuguese Court’s taste over the 18th and 19th centuries: although principally rococo, it dabbles with elements of the baroque and neoclassical too. Apart from simply being a treat for the eyes, it also occasionally accommodates foreign dignitaries: the U.S. Presidents Carter, Reagan and Clinton have all stayed there
A Royal Retreat
Perhaps the most elegant room in the palace is the Throne Room, which was once the site of balls and banquets. It is lined with mirrors and illuminated by crystal chandeliers and reflective gilded statues. Then step from the public to the private with a visit to the Royal Bedroom, which contains some striking murals relating episodes from Cervantes’ “Don Quixote”.
Where the kitchen once was, there is now a restaurant called Cozinha Velha, which has the original stone chimney, arches and vaulted ceiling. Be sure to try their renowned desserts. Afterwards, drift into the royal gardens, among the classically inspired statues and fountains, and then along the azulejo-lined canal where the royal family once went boating.
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