Ajuda National Palace - History and Facts | History Hit

Ajuda National Palace

Lisbon, Area Metropolitana de Lisboa, Portugal

Ajuda National Palace was once the official residence of the Portuguese royal family.

Peta Stamper

12 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Ajuda National Palace

Ajuda National Palace (Palacio Nacional da Ajuda) in Lisbon was the official residence of the Portuguese royal family from the reign of King Louis I in 1861 until 1910, when Portugal became a republic.

A Neoclassical building with a lavish interior, Ajuda National Palace was built from 1802 after the devastating earthquake in which the then royal residence, Ribeira Palace, was destroyed.

Since 1968, Ajuda National Palace has been an art museum as well as a venue for official state functions, with guided tours available.

Ajuda National Palace history

After the 1755 earthquake, the temporary wooden building that housed the Portuguese royal family was replaced by a magnificent modern Neoclassical palace. Over time, the project was paused or slowed because of financial issues or political conflict.

For example, when the Portuguese royals fled to Brazil in 1807 when the French invaded, work on the palace slowed dramatically. The palace was at this point invaded by Napoleon‘s troops and then discontinued by Liberal forces who reduced royal power by installing a constitutional monarchy – much like Britain.

Artistically, the Ajuda National Palace combined the Baroque style – associated with regal authority – and the fashionable Neoclassic from Italy, which dominated. The palace interiors were designed by King Luis I’s reign by Queen Maria Pia, who lived in Ajuda National Palace from the day she became queen in 1862 until the Republican Revolution in 1910, when the royals were forced into exile.

Ajuda National Palace today

Open from 10am until 5.30pm Thursday to Tuesday, the Ajuda National Palace remains a splendid marker of Portugal’s royal past. The grand dining hall alone is worth the 5€ entry fee – still used by the president for hosting state dinners, the room is an immaculate and ornate entertainment space.

As a museum, the palace displays decorative artwork from the 18th and 19th centuries, including lavish gold and silver work, textiles, ceramics as well as paintings, sculpture and photographs.

Getting to Ajuda National Palace

Located in the heart of the Alto da Ajuda district of Lisbon, the Ajuda National Palace is most easily reached on public transport. Both buses and trams 18E stop at Ajuda GNR, and buses 76B, 742 and 760 also stop at the palace square – all just 3-5 minutes walk away.

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