Jan 26, 2017

Queluz Palace and Pousada Queluz Dona Maria

John and I often spend the last couple days of a trip treating ourselves by staying at someplace special.  We decided to stay at a pousada. The pousadas of Portugal are a group of unique places to stay. On our last trip we stayed at several and I will never forget looking out the window of my room in Pouasda of Palmela, a medieval castle. I know how Repunzel must have felt.  Our room was in the old, high, sheer walls of the castle with a panoramic view of the countryside.  

This time we chose to stay at Pousada of Queluz Dona Maria located on the main square opposite the Queluz Palace.  The building formerly housed the Royal Guards. It is on the edge of Lisbon and about the same distance from the airport from the city center. The hotel was wonderful with white tablecloth dining for breakfast.  When we booked a tour outside of Lisbon we chose the half day tour that did not include Queluz Palace because we knew the palace would be just steps away from the last place we planned to stay.

John and I walked across the street to visit the palace and gardens. Queluz Palace was the official residence of the Portuguese Royal Family from 1794 until it became the property of the state in 1908. It has been beautifully renovated maintaining much of the building’s 18th century elegance. I recalled the palace and the pousada as being mauve-colored.  The pousada still is but the palace is being repainted with touches of yellow, blue, and green on the gray stone. It seems research shows that it was the color originally.  The Queluz Palace is one of great European Rococo buildings.

One of the benefits of touring the palace on our own is that we can take our time and ask questions – and learn the stories. Needless to say the rooms were elegant with Murano chandeliers, Portuguese Azulejos tiles, paintings, gold-leaf trim, and other features.  The royals had their own private enclosed area in the chapel. There were music rooms, an Ambassador room, dressing rooms, and more. Life of the royals was not always wonderful as one might think. Maria I was considered a good ruler until her mental state deteriorated and after the death of her husband and then her eldest son, the heir-apparent at 27 from small pox, followed by the death of her confessor she was declared insane. 

It all seemed so wonderful and peaceful, especially the gardens. There were fountains, statues, private areas, a variety of gardens but the pièce de résistance was the canal lined with blue Azulejos tiles. There was a place for the court musicians to play while the royals spent leisure time on water.

I should have planned better because I wanted to attend a concert in
the palace ballroom but it was sold out.  And, we wanted to see a presentation by the famed Portuguese School of Equestrian Art which was at one time on the palace grounds but now has moved to another location.

The kitchen of Queluz Palace is now the Cosinha Velha a fine-dining restaurant. John and I enjoyed our delectable meals there.  On display there are some of the original utensils and the fireplace big enough to roast an entire animal. The massive 17-ton stone prep table  is now the dessert table laden with an array of delectable yummies.