The Palácio da Ajuda is one of the most beautiful tourist attractions and makes for one of the shorter day trips from Lisbon . This tribute to neoclassicism is situated in the civil parish of Ajudain in Lisbon. The palace currently stands on the site where a temporary wooden house was erected to accommodate the Royal household after the 1755 Lisbon earthquake.
It then served as the royal residence from the 1860s until 1910, when monarchy ended. Initially, the work was entrusted to Manuel Caetano de Sousa, an architect who designed the palace in Baroque-Rococo style. However, due to certain circumstances, the work was passed to the architects Jose da Costa e Silva and Francisco Xavier Fabri who built the palace in its current neoclassical style.
Perched on a hilltop, the Palácio da Ajuda overlooks the Tagus River and Ajuda. The architecture of a palace is constructed in the shape of an a-symmetrical rectangle. The structure is designed in such a way that there is a courtyard in the centre surrounded by four buildings. The pavements had structure of geometric patterns and designed in a traditional Portuguese calcada style.
Each building has its own historical significance and most still serve a practical function. The building on the northern side houses the artefacts of the Institute of Museums and Conservation, Institute for Architectural Management and Archaeological Heritage, Ajuda Library and a gallery exhibiting for a temporary period. The southern and eastern buildings are filled with museum exhibitions of the Palácio da Ajuda. The western wing remains incomplete to this day.
You can visit private apartments, staterooms and feast on the exquisite furnishings, and artworks that are almost five centuries old. Queen’s chapel within the palace is must visit as it is the home to Portugal’s only El Greco painting.
Reaching the palace is an uphill schlep. Tourists can either walk from Belém, which is a bit tiring or board tram 18E. There are also several buses that leave from Praça do Comércio. The palace is only about a 30 minute journey by car and makes for one of the better day trips from Lisbon!
In and around the Palácio da Ajuda:
Surrounded by hills and greenery, Ajuda offers picturesque and Instagram-worthy pictures for your collection. Here are a few other things to do on your visit to Lisbon:
- Torre do Galo or Tower of the Rooster used be an old hide-away for the Royals
- Jardim das Damas is a beautiful garden inside the palace
- Jardim Botanico da Ajuda located opposite to the palace is another must see. King Joseph I built it in 1768.
- Click the link for a full list of goings on, in and around Lisbon.