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Mafra - Located to the north of Lisboa is the impressive Palácio de Mafra in the small town of the same name. It was commenced in 1717 in the reign of Dom Joăo V. The initial project was less ambitious in size. The King committed himself to his church to build a new monastery for 13 Franciscan friars as a seal of his faith and in penance for his well-known sexual extravagances. During its long history the Palace has been mainly used by the Royal Family as a home when hunting in its adjoining forest for deer and wild boar. The monastery was abandoned in 1834 after Dom Joăo V had dissolved all religious orders. The Royal quarters were last used by Dom Manuel II as an overnight resting-place on his escape to England in 1910 aboard his yacht moored at the nearby port of Ericeira.

This impressive Baroque Palace when finished was enlarged to include 880 rooms and 330 cells for its monks. It also includes a small hospital and pharmacy, and a prize library. Beautifully housed are about 36.000 rare books that include a first edition of “Os Lusíadas” by the famous Portuguese poet Luís de Camőes. This enlargement of the palace was made feasible by the vast wealth that suddenly flooded into the Royal coffers from Brazil. Besides its Basilica full of marble statues carved by Italian masters of that time, it also has separate royal suites for the King and his Queen linked by an extremely lengthy corridor that stretches 232 meters across the front of the Palace. It can only be assumed that this acted as a timely warning when either party was entertaining privately and was about to receive a Royal visitor. This large Palace was inaugurated in 1730 with a notable celebration that lasted eight days and included most of the 52.000 workmen who had been involved in its construction. Most of its interior furnishings were removed to Brazil when the King fled to Brazil in 1807 to avoid the invading French army. At present the Basilica is undergoing a renovation program and the first organ of the existing six has been restored. The organ was built in 1807 and consists of 1578 tubes.

The forest covered estate attached to the town and it now can be visited on foot, by vehicle or horseback. The estate is kept well stocked with wild game including boar and there is a museum with a small collection of antique horse drawn vehicles. Nearby is a Nature Centre for the Preservation of the Iberian Wolf which is also open to the public.

Picture Gallery of Mafra Portugal Picture Gallery of Mafra Portugal
Picture Gallery of Mafra Portugal Picture Gallery of Mafra Portugal
Picture Gallery of Mafra Portugal Picture Gallery of Mafra Portugal
Picture Gallery of Mafra Portugal
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