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The brilliant Mafra National Palace

The magnitude and beauty of the Mafra National Palace with its remarkable architecture from the Baroque era with its materials make this monument one of the most enthusiastic heritage sites to visit in Portugal.

We started our visit from Lisbon travelling about forty kilometeres to the Mafra National Palace which is located in the municipality of Mafra.

Map Lisbon Mafra PortugalLocation map of Mafra National Palace

The Mafra National Palace was built by D. João V with gold fund from Brazil, under the direction of militar engineer João Frederico Ludovice in the first half of the 18th century in the year of 1717. Later on, other members of the Royal family gave their contribuition to the Palace filling it with sculptures and paintings.

Mafra National Palace PortugalBasilica facade with two carillons

The main parts of the Mafra National Palace are the Palace, the Basilica and the old Convent. It has 1200 divisions standing out several important collections as the Italian and Portuguese painting as well as a Library of the most important in Europe, two carillons with 102 bells, Six Organs (unique set in the whole world) and a Hospital of the 18th century.

Real Palace

We have started our visit on the upper floor, the so called Nobel floor, where there are several rooms and the rooms of Royal Court and its guests.

Cloister South Mafra National Palace PortugalSouth cloister of the Mafra National Palace In the stairs Mafra National Palace PortugalIn the stairs on the way to Noble floor
Diana’s room the goddess of the hunt Mafra National Palace PortugalDiana’s room the goddess of the hunt with the painting on the ceiling of nymphs and satyrs by Cirilo Volkmar Machado Throne Room Mafra National Palace Portugal Throne room with references to paintings on the ceiling when the Royal family left for Brazil in 1807 during the Napoleonic invasions in Portugal. The room is also surrounded by painting and sculpture by Domingos Sequeira (Virtues)
Turret North King's accommodation Mafra National Palace Portugal North Turret in the rooms of D. João V with paintings in the walls ordered in Itlay King's Room Mafra National Palace PortugalKing’s Room in North Turret

Upon leaving the North Turret is the main Gallery with a succession of rooms with a long corridor of 232 meters that connects to the South Turret in the Queen’s Room. Of note it is the painting decoration on the walls of Cirilo Machado.

Mafra National Palace Portugal discoveries RoomDiscoveries Room with paintings related to 15th century maritime explorers Mafra National Palace Portugal Guards RoomGuard Room from the Royal Guard.The ceiling painting refers to the character of the Greek Mythology of “The Fall of Phaeton”

The Room of Blessing is located in the middle of the corridor where the Royal family from the top attended the religious ceremonies in the Basilica and to the other side of the balcony where King D. João V could thus greet the people. It is decorated with marble stone from the surrounded regions of Sintra, Pero Pinheiro and Cascais.

As noted, by the experience acquired in the learning and work employed in the National Palace of Mafra, since engineers to workers, it proved useful in the reconstruction of Lisbon after the 1755 earthquake.

Blessing Room Mafra National PalaceBlessing Room Basilica Mafra National Palace PortugalView to the Basilica from the Blessing Room
 South Turret Queen's accommodation Mafra National Palace PortugalSouth Turret in the private Queen’s Room Room of the Queen Portugal Mafra National PalaceThe Queen’s Room with a photo of the last king of Portugal D. Manuel II
Music Room with a grand piano Joseph Kirkman Music Room with a grand piano Joseph Kirkman Games Room with an 18th century pool table Mafra National Palace PortugalGames Room with an 18th century pool table
Hunting Room Mafra National Palace PortugalHunting Room with animal rods on the walls. A representation of hunts that took place in Tapada of Mafra Friars Portrait Room Mafra National PalaceFriars Portrait Room

The Library is the last visiting area of the Nobel floor and it is considered one of the most important libraries of the 18th century with around 36,000 volumes. It covers all areas of scientific and religious enlightenment knowledge. Noteworthy are the 15th century illuminated Books of Hours, the collection of incunabula dated between 1454 and 1500 period of implementation of mechanical mobile presses for printing texts and a nucleus of musical scores related to the Six Organs of the Basilica.

Library Mafra National PalaceView from the Library

Then we went down to floor one of the old Convent where the Hospital and the Sacred Art Center are located with the patients being treated by the nurse friars.

Tools used in the infirmary Tools used in the infirmary

 Hospital Mafra National PalaceIn the Hospital of XVIII century
Kitchen of infirmary  Mafra National Palace PortugalIn the infirmary Kitchen

Mafra National Palace exhibition room saints PortugalExhibition hall for sculptures and nativity scenes of some saints.


The imposing Baroque Basilica in Italian style forms the central axis of the National Palace of Mafra aside with the bell towers. It was completed in 1730 on the birthday of King D. João V and is covered in marble. It has Six Organs set unique in the world and beautiful sculptures along the atrium.

Galilé of BasilicaMafra National Palace PortugalView of the Galilee from the Basilica with the exhibition of the Apostles Basilica Mafra Nationla Palace PortugalView from inside of the Basilica
 Organs of Basilica Mafra Nationla PalaceView of two of the Basilica’s Six Organs
Dome Basilica Mafra National PalaceThe dome in Basilica

After visiting the National Palace of Mafra, we went to lunch at the local restaurant Toca da Raposa where the service was excellent. The chosen dishes were Portuguese stew and octopus rice; it was delicious.

Portuguese StewPortuguese stew
Octopus riceOctopus rice

Despite the weather being a little clouded, a smiling seller face was roasting chestnuts, a tradition of November in Portugal. They were very warm and tasty.

 chestnuts Chestnuts in Mafra
Ruas de MafraSaying goodbye to Mafra in one of the narrow streets

Our visit to the Mafra National Palace was very rewarding so the art of the greatest Baroque work in Portugal with the combination of paintings, sculptures, also highlighting the great cultural heritage of the Library, the imposing Basilica with the Six Organs and its historic carillon with 102 bells are no doubt unique in the world.

We hope that our readers and travel lovers will also be able to visit this magnificent World Heirtage Site.

Referências Palácio Nacional de Mafra

Thanks to Manuel Manero for blogging recommendations

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Rui Vasconcelos

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