Whilst the king’s quarters are to be found in one of the corner towers of the National Palace of Mafra, the Queen’s are no further than on the opposite corner of the baroque architectural complex, almost a kilometer away from each other! With all that distance, one might put into questioning the passion and love between the two. The story of the Quinta de Santana backs up our idea: What today is a beautiful winyard, once was the home of the kings girlfriend. He had it conveniently built for her, just on the other side of his hunting grounds, today’s Tapada de Mafra and hence could go and visit her whenever he pleased. Since his second love was an actress and to make sure she would stay where she pleased him most (at home) the king not only provided her with a spacious home, but had a theatre built for her. Hence his woman of second choice would stay entertained and could have all her theatre buddies visiting, instead of her having to go to Lisbon! We say: smart guy that king (; But let’s go back to the National Palace of Mafra – there is much more to be explored:
The historic building which consists of a Royal Palace, a Basilica and a Convent, shows important collections of Italian and Portuguese sculptures, as well as paintings, but what to us is most special is the unique library! Did you ever want to feel like Harry Potter at Hogwarts? Well, take a Palace tour and check the library and you will! Unfortunately you can only pass by and not really go inside and explore as much as one would want, it’s still worth the visit!
On the same tour through the Palace you can explore the eighteenth century hospital which is exceptionally well restored and the Palace’s gardens, the Jardim do Cerco, an illuminated garden inspired by Versailles, with water ponds, wide paths, shady trees and a century-old water wheel that still works.
Don’t miss out on the Palace’s Basilica, with its two of the biggest tower bells in Europe and the six (!) historical organs – even famous Lord Byron referred himself to the majestic music instrument stating that it was “probably the most beautiful organs” that he had seed so far. Tip: It’s even better to go and hear them filling the Basilica with joyas music at one of the classical concerts! Find out more on http://www.palaciomafra.gov.pt and at the tourist info-point in the center of Ericeira.