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The Royal Palace of Necessities

The Royal Palace of Necessities (11)

The royal palace of necessities today houses Portugal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however in the past it was originally a monastery. 

King Joao V commissioned it to be built in 1742. The monarch had suffered from a serious illness during which he promised “Nossa Señora da Saude” (the patron saint of health) that he would build a monastery in her honour if he recovered. On regaining his health, the king ordered the building’s construction on what was previously the site of the saint’s hermitage as a sign of his gratitude.

The monastery’s members dedicated their time to the study of theology, humanities and science. The king added several annexes where he created gardens, as well as a residential palace. The latter is a work by the Italian architect Giovanni Servandoni who remained faithful to the style prevalent during the 18th century.

The whole complex lay in the hands of the Lisbon Oratory Religious Congregation when Portugal’s religious orders were expelled in 1834. Following these events it became the residence of the Kings of the Bragança dynasty. During this period each of the dynasty’s kings to reside in the palace ordered refurbishment to his own particular tastes.

An example of this was the original tile decoration inside the palace being replaced during the reign of King Pedro IV by exotic wood types and crystal windows, as well as the total elimination of any sign that the building had once been a convent. 

The next monarch King Pedro V installed a door on which anyone could detail their complaints and leave messages for the sovereign. In the 20th century King Carlos I extended the grand salon to cater for the increase in diplomatic activity.

If the palace incredibly survived the 1755 earthquake intact, it was not so lucky in 1910 when republican forces bombarded it and caused great damage. After the proclamation of the republic and the departure of King Manuel II to exile in Mafra and then London, the palace became the seat of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a function it still holds today.

Today the palace houses a lovely garden over the Tajo which emphasises its beautiful pink façade standing proud and imposing over the whole scene. However you will have to make do with this image and the grand views over the district of “la Alcántara” and the waterside because the palace remains closed to the public.

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