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Photographer's Note

Once again, this is a restoration of an old, faded and damaged slide. I felt a little hesitation about daring to add to the TE’s collection of Queluz images, many of which are very fine. However, I was persuaded for two reasons. First, I cannot find another shot from the viewpoint of today’s post, which shows the façade of the ballroom wing with its ogee arch -- designed by an unknown architect and reminiscent of Borromini. This wing with its varying rooflines and swooping pediments illustrates the palace's appearance as a series of pavilions and wings rather than one large mass. Secondly. there have been some changes as restoration and maintenance work has proceeded. For example, new roof tiles on some sections of the palace are much brighter than the ones they replaced – according to both my memory and my faded slides, significantly affecting the appearance and also, I suspect, the ambiance of the place.

Sometimes described as an expression of the extravagant period of Portuguese culture that followed the discovery of Brazilian gold in 1690, to my eyes, Queluz is one of the most elegant, refined and charming palaces I’ve visited. The following background on this lovely place is drawn from a variety of sources, including the current Wikipedia article.

The Palácio Naçional de Queluz was first built in the 17th century as a manor house for King Pedro II but between 1747 and 1794 was enlarged and transformed into a graceful country palace for Pedro III and his wife, later Queen Maria I.

Construction, under architect Mateus Vicente de Oliveira, went rapidly from 1747 until 1755 when it was interrupted by the Great Lisbon Earthquake. The subsequent urban rebuilding process stimulated development of the arts in Portugal. The new ideas and concern for greater seismic safety led to adaptation of the central block when work resumed in 1758. They also influenced the later additions, begun in 1760 by Jean Baptiste Robillon, who also designed many of the rooms and the Rococo gardens. The latter contain elaborate fountains, grottoes and sculptures, some of them in lead cast in England. In the lower part of the gardens is the Ribeira de Jamor basin, 115m long and beautifully faced with azulejos, where the royal family went boating.
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The palace’s design adaptations produced low, long buildings that were more structurally stable than a single high block. The result is that from a distance the palace resembles long enfilades linked by higher pavilions rather than one single construction. This fact and the mix of neo-classic and uniquely Portuguese Rococo styles account, in my view, for the architecture's feeling of relative intimacy and light-heartedness by comparison with many other great palaces.

From 1826, the palace slowly fell from favour with the Portuguese sovereigns. In 1908, it became the property of the state. Following a serious fire in 1934, which gutted the interior and destroyed many of the contents, the palace was extensively restored. From 1940 it became open as a museum, housing much of the former royal collection of furniture, Arraiolos carpets, paintings, and Chinese and European ceramics and porcelain. In 1957, the "Dona Maria Pavilion," built in the palace's east wing between 1785 and 1792 by the architect Manuel Caetano de Sousa, was transformed into a guest house for visiting heads of state.

More recently, transportation (the Lisbon-Sintra motorway) and tourism have supported maintenance and improvement of the palace and today Queluz is well preserved. Its principal rooms are now not only museums but settings for official entertaining. The palace and the gardens are open to the public as a major tourist attraction and in the summer months host classical music concerts, as part of the Sintra music festival, and equestrian shows.

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Additional Photos by Mary Kenning (akm) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 197 W: 119 N: 240] (1216)
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