Beautiful Places and Beautiful Stories #1: Mafra's National Palace

Hey guys! Today I'm here with a different kind of post and this as taken me a very long time to put together, so I really hope you enjoy it.
As you may know by now, I'm Portuguese and I've been studying a book by the Nobel award winner José Saramago, called Memorial do Convento, in English Baltasar and Blimunda and, because of that, I had a very fun field trip to Mafra's National Palace and the Basilica (all in one building).
I'll start by telling you a bit of the convent\palace history:
The palace, which also served as a Franciscan monastery, was built during the reign of King John V of Portugal (1707–1750), as consequence of a vow the king made in 1711, to build a convent if his wife, Queen Mary Anne of Austria, gave him offspring. The birth of his first daughter, princess Barbara of Braganza, prompted construction of the palace to begin. The palace was conveniently located near royal hunting preserves, and was usually a secondary residence for the royal family.
This vast complex is among the most sumptuous Baroque buildings in Portugal and at 40,000 m², one of the largest royal palaces. Designed by the German architect João Frederico Ludovice, the palace was built symmetrically from a central axis, occupied by the basilica, and continues lengthwise through the main façade until two major towers. The structures of the convent are located behind the main façade. The building also includes a major library, with about 40,000 rare books. The basilica is decorated with several Italian statues and includes six historical pipe organs and two carillons, composed of 92 bells. - Wikipedia
The beautiful thing Saramago did was to take this building's history and then writing a story that commemorates the People's memory. I wrote people with a capital P because what Saramago wanted was to talk about the lives of those who suffered in order to build a magnificent piece of architecture: they were taken from their homes, they were famished and sick and their names are not written in history books. He wanted to honour those who were forgotten.

Walking through this place is like entering a completely different world where beauty and attention to detail reign and where you can feel like you're a faerie in an enchanted garden full of magic. Every statue, every stone carving and every window is strategically placed so it amplifies the grandiosity of the place in general, I really don't think my camera made it justice.

One of my favourite parts of the visit was the basilica! You can almost taste the material's richness and the explosion of sensations: you feel small, you feel grand, it's very dark, it's very illuminated...

When I exited the basilica we went for a quick walk through the palace and I have to admit that I learned so many fun curiosities and we joked a lot about the really long corridors the king had to walk in order to get to the queen's chambers!

I have to admit that the real highlight of the visit was the library! It has over 40.000 volumes and it was founded and looked after by the friars that lived in the convent. It's a work of art on itself.
One very curious peculiar fact this library has it's the special guardians that inhabit within it: the bats. The friars founded a bat colony within the library so they can help preserve the books by eating bugs and other things, they do not even stain the books!

I hoped you liked this post! Tell me what you thought!

1 comment

  1. What amazing pictures! I love the organ in the cathedral! Thanks for sharing. :)