Thursday, 2 March 2017

Lisbon Chronicles | Palácio Foz





Downtown, in Restauradores Square, next to one of Lisbon's emblematic funiculars (Elevador da Glória), you can find Palácio Foz.  Is hard to miss it! The large pink palace, with Parisian style rooftops is easy to identify. In part of its ground floor you can find, among other services, the City Tourism Office, but the noble part of the palace is not open to public on a daily basis and you can only visit it with a guide.

I've done this visit recently with Lx Secret Places tours and I strongly recommend it. Jorge, the guide, couldn't be more knowledgeable or passionate about the history of the palace and the visit was both interesting and fun to all the participants. Lx Secret Places has regularly planned visits, but you can contact them to check if its possible to held a non-programmed visit in the days you are visiting Lisbon.






The construction of Palácio Foz (also known as Palácio Castelo Melhor) started in the 18th century, after the great earthquake. In the centuries that followed, it had several owners, that introduced various styles trough interventions both in the exterior, like the mansard rooftops, and in the interior. Its magnificent rooms usually reserved for official events, serve also as location for cultural occasions and as film locations. The old library of the palace is now the National Sports Museum.

Commissioned by the Count of Castelo Melhor in 1777, the palace was sold to the Marquis of Foz in 1889 that ordered such a profound refurbishing of the palace that, with the exception of the exterior walls and the large and rich chapel, little remained of the original place. Reconstructed and decorated by the finest Portuguese artists, it was endowed it with the richest collection of art presented in a Portuguese palace. It was a collection of thousands of pieces of first choice, from furniture to porcelain, of an indescribable variety, which had in common the value and the quality. Among the hundred and fifty paintings exposed, were works by Rubens and Joardens, Rembrant, Sneyders, Velasquez and Bosch among others.


Palácio Foz (circa 1900) - Photo in Arquivos Municipais de Lisboa

Pastelaria Foz (1918) - Photo in Arquivos Municipais de Lisboa


But the good fortune of the Marquis would not last long, and 12 years later, in 1901, a monumental auction took to the square all the palace stuffing. In 1910 the palace was sold and its new owner rented the building to goldsmiths and tailors, photographers and dressmakers. There were clubs, showrooms and even a gym, transforming the most opulent residence of Lisbon in a sort of shopping mall. In 1917 was inaugurated, in the ground floor, a Patisserie (Pastelaria Foz) that was the place of choice for the elegant ladies to reunite with their friends for tea. In the basement, a different kind of establishment was functioning. But that will be the matter for a future story (and post). Eventually the business wouldn't be successful and the building is integrated in the National Heritage in 1939, and benefited, since 1944, from major restoration works, namely the construction of a new wing in the gardens area.









The tour takes the visitors to the Noble Spaces of the Palace, starting at the sumptuous staircase that takes from the hall to the main floor. Although the palace hasn't anymore all of its original furnitures, decorations and works of art, the remaining give us a glimpse of its original opulence.

At the first floor, the landing creates a rectangular gallery, where marble columns  with golden Corinthian capitals support the roof. And what roof!!! The ceiling is hand painted with the images of a clouded sky from which center hangs a lamp inspired by a smaller lamp that can be founded at the French Palace of Versailles. Other decorative references to France can be found all trough the palace. Also impressive is the huge oil painting hanging in the wall, representing an allegory to Bacchus, the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine.







From this gallery, passing trough a  cozy room with a fireplace, you can walk to a series of Noble Rooms like the gleaming Noble Hall or Mirrors Room,  the unique Louis XVI Room, the Panels Rooms and the Dinning Room. This rooms are use in special state occasions and functions or otherwise reserved for cultural events.

The Noble Hall, splendid like no other in the decorative apparatus, was designed in Regency style, being inspired in the room of the mirrors of Queluz Palace, as this one had been in the one of Versailles. Its magnificence is impressive, presenting decorative works from respected artists like Columbano, that painted the medallions over the doors and on the ceiling.








Next to the Noble Hall, you can find the Louis XVI Room. Smaller and with a less solemn look, presents some original furniture pieces of the palace and a more sober wall decoration, with ornaments in stucco and frames painted in chiaroscuro by the Portuguese painter Malhoa.






Along the Noble Hall there is a large gallery with windows to the garden. This Gallery, decorated with busts, some of Roman inspiration and others in Renaissance style, comutes to the following rooms.







The Panels Room has two enormous paintings by Snyders, a 17th century painter of the Flemish school, representing market scenes. Apart from the striking paintings and the great chandelier of the 18th century, the room, in Louis XIV style, is quite simple. Worth of notice are the  medallions, painted  by Malhoa, representing the four elements.







The large Dinning Room is perhaps the more charming of the palace's rooms, with a large glass door leading to the terrace, overlooking the garden, framed by an imposing marble colonnade.

The room, in Louis XIV style, is decorated with full body figures in stucco in the crown molding, and the vast golden ceiling decorated with arabesques, from which hang three great Venetian crystal chandeliers.









The small and secluded garden, enclosed between the two wings of the building, is the perfect way of finishing the visit.

























25 comments:

  1. Your photos are breathtaking! I wanted to jump in them and be at the Palacio Foz.

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    1. Thank you Amanda! Hope you can visit it one day :)

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  2. I was in this palace on a conference which took place at the Noble Hall. The staircase is stunning!

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    1. Hi Lana! I agree with you the staircase is magnificent. Unfortunately I didn't get a good photo of it. Thank you for your comment.

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  3. Lisboa is now on my list! Your pictures sold me and now want to visit the palace. I love how you share many historic facts about this place. Great post and happy travel!

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    1. Its an amazing place and if you plan to visit Lisbon, check if they have any tours while you're here.

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  4. Such a beautiful place to visit. Thanks for grabbing some great captures of some of the intricate details found throughout the building. It was also nice to see some of the historical photos for comparison.

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    1. Its a building with such an amazing story that I had to tell you about it.

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  5. This is such an incredible building! The interior designs are so intricate. I've been meaning to take a trip to Portugal and it looks like I have found a real reason why!

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    1. And there are so many amazing palaces in Lisbon that you need more than a week to visit them all.

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  6. A place worth visiting. Incredible architecture. Thanks for sharing

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    1. Thank you for your kind feedback.

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  7. The pink palace is so pretty, Im sure I've seen your photos on Instagram and thought the same! But I had no idea how stunning it is inside as well, you've really captured the place.

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    1. Happened the same to me. Loved the exterior and yet had never visited inside and really takes my breath away.

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  8. I have been to Lisbon and I'm due to go again. I missed the Palacio Foz on previous visits but you'e inspired me to go. Your photos on Instagram look amazing of the pink building and I can't wait to photograph it myself!

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    1. Hope you can came back soon and schedule a visit. The Guide is great.

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  10. Looking at the outside of the building alone I never would have guessed it was in Portugal! I really like how you provided such an in depth history of the place, and your photos are wonderful! Hopefully I'll visit Lisbon this year or next and shall have to put the Palacio on my list of places to see.

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    1. Hope to have you here soon and yes this is a place to visit. Feel free to message me if you have any questions while planning you visit.

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  11. It's always fun going on tours with guides who are both fun and knowledgable to deal with. Your pictures have come out wonderfully and I will bookmark this place for future visit to Lisbon.

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    1. Thank you for your feedback. If you need any extra tips for Lisbon, please say.

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  12. Great to know about all the history about Palacio Foz. Since I've never been to Lisbon, this is something I really will visit once im there. :-) The outside and inside of this magnificient palace is gorgeous and intriguing!

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    1. Thank you for your kind comment. Hope you enjoy your future visit to it.

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  13. Beautiful! Reminds of the Palace of Versailles.

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    1. Versailles was the inspiration for some of the rooms and for many details in the palace decoration. Thank you for commenting.

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