National palace in Queluz Lisbon: exuberant 18th-century Rococo style, Secret Histories of Portuguese kings, a juicy story & queen Carlota Joaquina

The National Palace in Queluz is one of Lisbon’s top tourist attractions, easy to reach by train from Lisbon or from Sintra. From outside the palace looks romantic, but what has been happening behind these walls when the Portuguese royal family lived here, about 200 years ago?

National Palace in Queluz Lisbon district & wonderful French-styled garden

History of Portugal & exorbitant decorated rooms in Rococo style 

While walking around in the many exorbitant decorated rooms of the National Palace in Queluz (Palácio in Portuguese , you realize that a ‘one afternoon’ visit is too short. Each room represents a piece of history of Portugal, as well as of Brazil. The information in English is quite basic, unfortunately. In case you don’t like a group tour guide: there’s real good info at f.i. Wikipedia.

National Palace in Queluz & Robillion staircase: ingeniously designed steps adorned with statuary

Discovery of Brazilian gold & the wealth of Portuguese colonies

Queluz’s Palace architecture is representative of the final extravagant period of Portuguese culture that followed the discovery of Brazilian gold in 1690.

The National Palace in Queluz & YouTube video: an impression

Brazil was a Portuguese colony from 1500 till 1822; nowadays the Portuguese is still the language of the majority of people in Brazil.

National Palace in Queluz & one of the 2 sphynxes dressed in 18th-century costume

Foreign artists, architects & newly enriched aristocracy

From the beginning of the 18th century many foreign artists and architects were employed in Portugal to satisfy the needs of the newly enriched aristocracy; they brought with them classical ideas of architecture which derived from the Renaissance.

In its design, Queluz is a revolt against the earlier, heavier, Italian-influenced Baroque which preceded the Rococo style throughout Europe.

National Palace in Queluz district Lisbon, the ballroom & some tourists , June 2017

Royal residence from 1794 – 1807 & Queen Maria I : a very sad story

Dom Pedro III started the construction of the Palácio de Queluz in 1747.  He married his 17 years younger niece D. Maria, Princess of Brazil, (1734-1816) in 1760. The couple had a happy marriage and they got six children.

But queen Maria suffered from religious mania and melancholia. This acute mental illness (perhaps due to porphyria) made her incapable of handling state affairs after 1792.

National Palace in Queluz district Lisbon & “Sala de Mangas” (Japonese drawings) decorated with tile panels (azulejos) illustrating the wealth of Portugal’s colonies

1794: Ajuda Palace destroyed by fire 

When the palace of Ajuda burnt down in 1794, the court was forced to move to the Queluz Palace, where the ill queen Maria would lie in her apartments all day. Visitors would complain of terrible screams that would echo throughout the palace. Her condition worsened after the death of her husband and the deaths from smallpox of her elder son and her daughter and their infant son. Maria died in Rio de Janeiro, aged 82. More……

National Palace in Queluz district Lisbon & one of the excessive decorated rooms

The juicy story about Queen Carlota Joaquina (‘the fury’ of Queluz)

Queen Maria’s second son João (John, nicknamed ‘the Clement‘), took over the government in her name. In 1816, he succeeded his mother as monarch of the Portuguese Empire .
On May 8, 1785 Carlota Joaquina (1775 – 1830) of Spain was officially married to the future king João VI. The marriage was not consummated until 9 January 1790, when Carlota was 15 years old.

Doña Carlota Joaquina of Spain (Carlota Joaquina de Borbón y Borbón-Parma). Picture: Wikipedia

Marriage Joaquina Carlota with corpulent João (John) VI & the miracle of nine handsome children

Joaquina’s husband was good-natured, indolent, corpulent and almost as ugly as she was. His religious observances bored her, and they were quite incompatible. Nevertheless, she gave birth to nine children and, because they were all handsome, it was rumoured that especially the younger ones had a different father.

National Palace in Queluz district Lisbon & the empire bedroom

Sexual orgies 

After the birth of the ninth child the couple began to live separate lives. It was rumoured that Joaquina had bought a retreat where she indulged in sexual orgies. Source: Vortex magazine, WikiPedia

Several Movies and TV series have been made about Carlota Joaquina‘s life. She had a bad reputation: infidel, manipulative and nymphomaniac. Carlota was religious, faced men and also transgressed the social norms of the time, which caused her to have many conflicts, also with the Portuguese authorities.

Movie trailer YouTube (English spoken) Carlota Joaquina Princesa do Brazil

National Palace in Queluz district Lisbon & “Sala de Mangas” decorated with beautiful tile panels

Napoleon Bonaparte & transfer of the Portuguese court to Brazil in 1807

Anticipating the invasion of Napoleon’s army, Joaquina’s husband João VI ordered the transfer of the Portuguese royal court to Brazil before he could be deposed.

Carlota Joaquina fought until the last minute not to leave for Brazil, asked for help from her parents, but diplomatic agreements made it difficult for Spanish kings to participate in Portuguese affairs.

National Palace in Queluz district Lisbon & entrance restaurant June 2017

Carlota Joaquina & caipirinha, Brazilian’s famous cocktail

Caipirinha is the national drink in Brasil and also very popular in Portugal. It is said that Carlota Joaquina invented the drink when she lived in Brazil, mixing her beloved Cachaça liquor (a spirit distilled from fermented sugarcane juice) with fruit and sugar. Supposedly, she drank incredible quantities of the liquor, and the palace had to order dozens of bottles for her each month.

Delicious! Caipirinha Recipe (and video)

Ingredients of the caipirinha. Picture: Wikipedia

‘Secret Histories of Portuguese kings’

“The nymphomaniac wife of King João VI, Carlota Joaquina, will have been the ‘inventor of caipirinha“, according to writer and journalist Alexandre Borges. Book: ‘Histórias Secretas de Reis Portugueses’ (‘Secret Histories of Portuguese Kings’), in a new edition.

As the Napoleon wars ended, Carlota returned with the king and the family to Portugal in 1821. She died at the Queluz Palace in 1830 at the age of 54.  It is speculated whether she died because of natural causes or whether she, in fact, killed herself.

National Palace in Queluz Lisbon district

On the assassination Carlos I in 1908, the palace passed into the ownership of the state. Portugal was in the turmoil of revolution and the monarchy fell two years later.  Since 1940 it has been open to the public as a museum.

Worth a visit!

Short- time rentals, 5 minutes walk from starting point tram 28 in Mouraria: my 3-bedroom authentic apartment with lovely patio, 100 m2

 

Prices, opening times & how to get to the Palace in Queluz from Lisbon

  • Location: Largo do Palácio, Queluz, Portugal
  • Open everyday, except main public holidays, from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. my experience: during luchtime (12:00 – 14:00) there are not many visitors
  • Palace and Gardens 5 €, Gardens 3.5 € (over 65 yrs.) 10 € adult. More info
  • Train: Lisbon-Sintra line, get off at Queluz/Belas (ca. 1 km walk to the Palace, easy to find)

National Palace in Queluz Lisbon district

More….

Leave a Reply