Natural environment of the garden
The floristic inventory work carried out in the Historical Gardens of the National Palace of Queluz, allowed to verify the presence of species of the spontaneous flora of this region, considered to be an area target for constant management. Most of the species are autochthonous protected areas, with young cork oak (Quercus suber), as well as gilbardeira (Ruscus aculeatus) and an orchid. Globally, 117 taxa were observed in the Historical Gardens of Queluz. Of these it was possible to identify 50 families and 101 genera and 91 species.
Regarding the origin and area of distribution of the taxa identified in the studied plots:
– 20 are introduced / exotic, of which 7 are invaders;
– 76 are indigenous, of which 3 are protected;
– 21 correspond to the remaining taxa that, due to the impossibility of identification to the species, it was not possible to determine their origin.
Considering the species with significant importance for conservation in Queluz (although in the inventory area, no endemic, rare or endangered species occur), three species appear to be under national protective law. Although each of them is covered by a statutory different, all Decrees are aimed at safeguarding the species in question and preservation of the natural heritage values. Protected species in Queluz include:
– The cork oak (Quercus suber) – species protected by Decree-Law no. 169/2001, amended by Decree-Law no. 155/2004 with a wide distribution in our country;
– The gilbardeira (Ruscus aculeatus) – species protected by Decree-Law no. 140/99, as amended by Decree-Law no. 49/2005 – Annex B-V. Annex B-V includes the species of Community interest whose harvesting in the wild and management measures;
– An Orchid (family Orchidaceae) – taxon protected by the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora)
Additionally, in close quarters to the Palace and its historical gardens, we can find a small walled forest, inserted in the urban network of the city of Queluz, the Matinha. Having become property of the Royal House after the restoration of 1640, with the construction of the Palace of Queluz, begun in 1747, it became a space destined to the hunting and the accomplishment of bullfights. In 1975, she was assigned by the General Directorate of Public Finance to the General Directorate of Forestry and Aquaculture Services, and in 1986 a ministerial decree recognized her recreational and leisure skills and integrated her into the then National Parks, Nature Reserves and Conservation Service, current Institute of Nature Conservation.
The Matinha compasses a set of spontaneous vegetation, and its considered a residual testimony of the vegetal formation that covered the area in ancient times. Regarding the Matinha, its ecosystem is sensitive and its conservation was a priority, since is also considered a relic settlement of cork oaks and other natural vegetation, being comprehended, in the scientific environment, as a potential genetic reserve.
Historical background of the garden
Initially conceived as a summer residence, Queluz became the royal family’s preferred place for their leisure and entertainment. They lived there permanently from 1794 until their departure for Brazil in 1807, at the time of the French invasions.
The different green spaces form a unified whole with the building itself, whose façades face the upper “French-style” gardens (the Hanging Garden and the Malta Garden) and are then prolonged through the delicate parterres de broderie delineated by box-tree hedges. The statues are inspired by themes from classical mythology and they decorate and mark out the main axes of these ornamental gardens.
The remarkable group of stone and lead sculptures were brought from Italy and England, the latter being the work of the London-based artist John Cheere. These gardens are separated from the adjacent gardens, as well as from the surrounding farming land and wooded areas, by stone balustrades with flower pots and statues. A series of avenues irradiate from the portico, and these in turn are linked to others, forming a complex geometrical grid that has lakes and fountains with water features placed at its intersections. Particularly impressive among the various highlights is the Medallions Lake, designed in 1764 by the French architect Jean-Baptiste Robillion, which has the shape of an octagonal star.
Inside the palace, the state rooms, spaces used for religious worship and private apartments follow on from one another, all of them enjoying close links to the gardens outside, which were formerly used for festivities, dances, theatrical performances, concerts, games, and equestrian and firework displays. The gilded woodcarvings and papier maché work, the walls lined with mirrors or paintings and the sparkling and highly decorative chandeliers, as well as the various art works and other treasures on display (most of them originating from royal collections), all reflect the sophisticated atmosphere of the Palace’s golden age.
Description of the Garden
The Gardens of the National Palace of Queluz cover an area of 16 hectares (40 acres) in what was the former Royal Estate of Queluz. Used by the Royal Family as a privileged setting for its festivities and celebrations, especially in the period from 1752 to 1786, the gardens represent a valuable national heritage and are highly distinctive in landscape terms, being considered one of Portugal’s most important historical gardens.
Robillion or Lion Staircase
Wild Animal Cages
Tiled Canal (in the Jamor River)
The whole of the area around the Staircase and the TiledCanal was an important recreational centre, where spaces were created that were specifically designed for the Royal Family’s leisure and entertainment. Somewhere in this area was the Barraca Rica, a wooden pavilion that was used to accommodate royal visitors. It was completed in 1757, but has since disappeared.
Alongside the Shells Cascade, and below the terrace of the Robillion Pavilion, were the Wild Animal Cages, built in 1822, where exotic animals, such as lionesses, tigers and monkeys, were kept in captivity.
This area has always been a fairly important recreational centre where spaces were created specifically for leisure and entertainment. In 1833, during the bloody period of the liberal struggles in Portugal, some animals were still to be found living in these cages: two lionesses, two tigers and some monkeys, clearly testifying to the exotic taste that had always existed at Queluz.
The Tiled Canal was previously known as the Great Lake. In the central part of the canal is the Lake House, a summer house decorated with chinoiseries in keeping with the taste that was prevalent at the time when it was built. It was also known as the Chinese House or the Music House, since it was here that the queen’s chamber orchestra played on summer afternoons, while the royal family rode in boats across the sparkling water, which, being held in place by a system of sluice gates, reflected the patterns and colours of the tiles that lined the walls, with their pictures of palaces, sea ports and ruins from Classical Antiquity.
Cain and Abel (John Cheere), in the Sycamore Square
This group of lead sculptures, which had previously been placed at the top of the façade of the Throne Hall, is now situated in the Sycamore Square.
This is the largest lake in the gardens (1764) and has the form of a star-shaped octagon. Around the lake are two statues by John Cheere: Apolloand Diana.
Designed by Robillion in 1764, the lake has a complex system of fountains and water jets.
Fountain of Neptune
An imposing sculptural group carved out of stone (1677) and depicting the figure of Neptune ringed by tritons. It was sculpted by Ercole Ferrata (1610-1686), a disciple and collaborator of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Originating from the country estate of Quinta do Senhor da Serra in Belas, the Fountain was placed here in 1945. The lake itself was a later addition.
Horse Training Arenas of the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art (EPAE)
Queen Amélia’s Stables (1904) and Stables of the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art
Tea Pavilion (former 19th-century greenhouse)
The Palm Game (Jogo da Pela)
Built in 1758, it is also known as the Ball Game (Jogo da Bola) or the Quoits Game (Jogo da Malha).
Built between 1769 and 1776. Situated at the far end of the estate, this garden is bordered by balustrades placed there in 1800. It is also known as the HothouseGarden, because it was here that King Pedro III used to plant pineapples. It was decorated with lakes, busts and statues.
Designed by Robillion in the 1770s, this is the focal point of the garden’s main axis, as well as the most spectacular part of its whole system of lakes and water features. The water spouts forth from a monumental gargoyle.
The Cascade is covered with carved stone features and rocks originating from Cascais. It was decorated with stone and lead statues that have not survived to the present day.
A stone fantasy inspired upon the motifs traditionally used in silver platters. It is the work of Jean-Baptiste Robillion, who was a disciple in Paris of the famous silversmith Thomas Germain. Robillion came to Portugal in 1749, working first of all as a goldsmith in the service of King Pedro and then later as the architect of Queluz.
Upper Gardens – Hanging Garden and Malta Garden
The tradition of ornamental gardens, to which Queluz clearly belongs, dictates that there must be parterres placed immediately beneath the windows of the main façade. At the palace, there are two gardens that follow this rule: the Hanging Garden (or Neptune’s Garden) and the Malta Garden. Designed in accordance with the French-style geometrical models, these two formal gardens are separated from one another and from the rest of the park by a balustrade that ends in the Knights’ Gate.
The decoration of flower beds delineated by box-tree hedges suggests a parterre de broderie, for which large quantities of shrubs and flowers were already being ordered in 1758. The whole garden is decorated with lakes, flower-pots, urns and marble statues, most of which originated from Italy, but there are also some lead sculptures that were made at the London studio of John Cheere (commissioned in 1755 and 1756).
Nereid’s Lake (lead sculptures attributed to John Cheere)
Neptune’s Lake (lead sculptures attributed to John Cheere)
Sculptures depicting the Four Seasons (John Cheere)
Sculptures of Mars and Minerva (John Cheere) on either side of the Ceremonial Façade
The Knights’ Gate (1773) presents “Heroic Fame riding on the back of Pegasus”, two equestrian statues that mark out the passage from the Hanging Garden to the park and highlight the main axis leading to the palace, ending to the north in the Ceremonial Façade and to the south in the Great Cascade.
King João IV establishes the House of Princes, which forms part of the Country House of Queluz, formerly a property of the Marquises of Castelo Rodrigo.
King Pedro, third lord of the House of the Infantado, begins the conversion works transforming the Country House of Queluz into a Summer Palace.
King Pedro marries his niece who takes the throne (1777) as Queen Maria I.
King Pedro III passes away followed by his heir, Prince José, two years later.
Prince João VI is acclaimed Prince Regent following the declaration of the mental incapacity of Queen Maria I.
Relocation of the Court to Rio de Janeiro following the invasion of Portugal by Napoleonic troops.
Return of the Court from Rio de Janeiro following the 1820 revolution.
King Pedro, the eldest son of King João VI, who remains in Brazil as its Regent, proclaims the independence of Brazil and becomes the first Emperor of Brazil.
The death of King João VI triggers a series of problems over his succession. King Pedro subsequently abdicates in favour of his daughter, Queen Maria II.
King Miguel, uncle of Queen Maria II proclaims himself the absolute king of Portugal.
King Pedro abdicates the empire of Brazil in favour of his youngest son (King Pedro II of Brazil) and returns to Portugal to fight for the right for his daughter to accede to the throne.
Victory of the liberals over the absolutists and the ascension of Queen Maria II to the throne.
The Palace is bequeathed by King Manuel II as a National Estate and becomes a state property.
Proclamation of the Republic and classification as a National Monument.
On the night of October 4th and into 5th, a fire rages that particularly hits the Robillion Pavilion and the Ambassadors Room.
Following a series of restoration projects in the wake of the fire, the Palace systematically opens to the public.
Parques de Sintra takes over managing the monument.
Launch of the interventions necessary to the restoration of the National Palace and Gardens of Queluz with total investment rising to around €2.8 million. The work planned for the Palace includes the full restoration of its façades, masonry, beams, roofing, upgrading the energy and communication infrastructures as well as the lightning protection system, installing a video-surveillance system, establishing a connection with the public sewage network and in addition to improvements to the flooring, left unfinished ever since the reconstruction following the 1934 fire.
Brief description of the Interpretation Centre/Museum
Queluz’s architecture is representative of the final extravagant period of Portuguese culture that followed the discovery of Brazilian gold in 1690. From the beginning of the 18th century many foreign artists and architects were employed in Portugal to satisfy the needs of the newly enriched aristocracy; they brought with them classical ideas of architecture which derived from the Renaissance. In its design, Queluz is a revolt against the earlier, heavier, Italian-influenced Baroque which preceded the Rococo style throughout Europe.
The architecture of Queluz reflects the lifestyle led by the Portuguese royal family at the time of building: during the reign of Dom Pedro’s brother, Joseph I, when Portugal was in practice governed by a valido or favourite, the Marquis of Pombal. Pombal encouraged the royal family to while away their days in the country and leave affairs of state to him. Thus the extravagant, almost whimsical architecture of Queluz, set apart from the capital city, exactly represents the politics and social events of Portugal during this era, and the carefree and flamboyant lives led by its occupants. Queluz’s role as a haven for those without responsibility was, however, to be short-lived.
The site chosen for this summer retreat was in a secluded hollow. It had originally been owned by the Marquis of Castelo Rodrigo. When the ruling Spanish were driven from Portugal in 1640, the Marquis was accused of having collaborated with the Spanish and the property was seized by the Portuguese Crown. The estate and its hunting lodge then became one of the many properties of the Portuguese king, João IV. He set it aside as one of the properties reserved for the second son of the reigning monarch. Thus it came into the hands of Dom Pedro, the second son of João V.
The architect, Mateus Vicente de Oliveira, had trained under Ludovice of Ratisbon and Jean Baptiste Robillon during the construction of the royal palace and convent of Mafra. The more sombre and massive classical palace at Mafra does not appear to have influenced the design for Queluz, which is in a lighter, more airy style. Work began in 1747 and continued rapidly until 1755, when it was interrupted by the Great earthquake of 1755, after which the labourers were more urgently required for the reconstruction of the city. The earthquake proved to be a catalyst, because the urban rebuilding process stimulated the development of the arts in Portugal.
The subsequent architecture of Queluz was influenced by new ideas and concepts. When work recommenced in 1758, the design was adapted for fear of another earthquake. Thus the later works take the form of low, long buildings, more structurally stable than a single high block: as a result, viewed from a distance the palace resembles long enfilades linked by higher pavilions rather than one single construction.