Around 13km northwest of Lisbon city centre and 16km southeast of Sintra, the Palácio de Queluz is one of Portugal’s most sumptuous palaces. Commissioned in 1747 by Dom Pedro, brother of King José I, its striking Rococo exterior and formal gardens were clearly influenced by the Palace of Versailles. It was built as a summer residence for the royals, but ended up being the permanent home of the Dona Maria I, aka Maria the Mad. She married her uncle Dom Pedro, and became queen after José I’s death in 1777, but after the death of her husband in 1786, Maria suffered severe mental problems and is said to have alarmed visitors who could hear her screaming from her palace bedroom. The palace was occupied and pillaged by French forces during the Napoleonic wars, when the Portuguese royal family fled to Brazil, though plenty of priceless works of art survived. These can still be seen today, supplemented by further artworks that were installed on the royal family’s return to the palace in 1821. Today the palace is preserved as a museum, though it is still pressed into service now and again to accommodate state guests and dignitaries, as well as hosting events for the Sintra music festival.

 

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