|The Ajuda National Palace (Portuguese: Palácio Nacional da Ajuda) is a neoclassical monument in the city of Lisbon, in Portugal. |
The Palace was built during the 19th century to be a residence for the kings of Portugal.
The site where the Palace stands, in the neighbourhood of Ajuda, was previously occupied by the Royal Tent (Real Barraca), a wooden structure that housed King José I after the Ribeira Palace was destroyed in the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake. After this wooden structure was destroyed by fire in 1794, during the reign of Queen Mary I and Prince John VI, a new Palace begun to be built by architect Manuel Caetano de Sousa, who planned a late baroque-rococo building. The lower storeys of the towers of the Palace, with typical rococo windows, date from this time.
In 1802, the project was entrusted to the Portuguese José da Costa e Silva and the Italian Francisco Xavier Fabri, who planned a magnificent building in the modern neoclassical style. In 1807 the Royal Family had to flee to Brazil, following the invasion of Portugal by French troops, and the works proceeded very slowly with Fabri taking charge of the project, later followed by António Francisco Rosa. Lack of financial resources would cause the project to be greatly reduced in scale.
View of the Winter Garden in the Ajuda Palace.The Palace became a permanent residence of the royal family during the reign of King Luis I (after 1861) and his wife, the Italian princess Maria Pia of Savoy. Their architect, Possidónio da Silva, introduced many aesthetic changes and turned one of the lateral façades into the main façade. After the death of her husband, Queen Maria Pia continued to live in the palace until a military coup overthrew the monarchy in 1910.
The Ajuda National Palace is one of the earliest neoclassical buildings in Lisbon. The Palace is square-shaped with a central courtyard. The West wing of the palace is unfinished, while the East wing is now the main façade with two towers at the corners. The central part of the façade has a tympanum with the coat-of-arms of Portugal and an entrance hall with statues of the virtues by Joaquim Machado de Castro and his disciples dating from the early 19th century. The interiors were decorated by many important 19th century Portuguese artists.