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"The impressive national palace"

"O palácio nacional impressionante"

The town overshadowed by the impressive national palace

Almost 40 km in the north of Lisboa, we discover a small town: Mafra. It is overshadowed by an impressive national palace. This palace dates from the 18th century and is built in a baroque and neoclassical style. In 2019, the palace became UNESCO World Heritage. The village Mafra was built up by the people who built this palace. Read further below to get all the insides.


#mafra, #nationalpalace, #kingjoãov, #unesco, #sarrowofportugal, #ericeira

Estimated read time: 7 minutes




Nearest large city:

Distance to district capital:

Lisbon Metropolitan Area



40 km

Location keywords:

National palace, Unesco, King D. João V

A national palace in a baroque and neoclassical style

"Baroque, neoclassicism and influences from the whole world"
mafra full national palace impressive fron overview street

The national palace and the town of Mafra

"The largest baroque and neoclassical building in Portugal"

The national palace of Mafra is built in a baroque and neoclassical style. In Portugal, it is the largest palace of this kind. Also, it is one of the largest of Europe in this building style. The front side of the palace is 232m tall, it has 1 200 rooms, almost 30 patios and halls, more than 4 700 doors and windows and more than 150 stairs. In the center of the palace is a basilica with 2 carillons. Around this point, the whole palace is built up. It has 2 separate parts. To discover why, read further this post below.

mafra window door painting national palace unesco
"The town of the palace"
mafra palace village overview viewpoint lisboa portugal

King João V gave the orders to build this impressive palace in 1717. It took around 13 years to complete. To build such an impressive palace, there were needed around 15 000 people. They needed to live short to the build place. So, they lived in front of the palace. Mafra was built by the people who built this palace. The town of Mafra was born.

King João V

mafra statue king john V joão portugal national impressive palace
"A palace for the king's daughter"

King of Portugal João V promised to his wife, Queen Donna Maria Anna of Austria, that he should build a palace when she gave him a child. Their daughter, Infanta Barbara of Portugal, was born. So, this was the start of the build of this palace. The King and Queen had in total 6 children.

"Separated in 2 parts"

Because it was a convent and a real palace to relax, it was better to move on a little bit away from Lisboa itself. The palace is completely split in 2 parts: one for the King and one for the Queen. Both parts could work completely separately. So, there were 2 kitchens, separated patios, separated bathrooms, sleeping rooms and so on. There was no need to meet together in the other part for the same tasks.

mafra palace national impressive unesco queen room
mafra roof pictures national palace
mafra real room palace national

Only on 1 floor, they are connected together. I suppose you already can guess on which floor. The Queen's room was at the Southern tower, while the King's room was at the Northern tower. Between them was the 232 m tall front side of the palace, which looks to the West. Of course, the basilica was built to the East.

As every monarch in the 18th century, King João V loved and wanted to highlight the strengths of his kingdom. By separating his part from the Queen, his independence and power stood more in the picture.

"Everything had to be present"
mafra garden palace national unesco
mafra church basilic igreja palace
mafra inner palace national view

This also is the reason why everything had to be present for the the Queen. She had her own cooks, a huge library and in the center of the palace is a basilica. A whole convent was present, that had a capacity for 330 friars. So, their was no reason to leave for anything. Everything was available in their own palace.

Elements of the national palace

"Beat everything and fascination of cultures"
mafra national palace sofa real
mafra triomph room unesco national palace monument
mafra music room musica sorrow portugal palace impressive

The King himself, wanted a palace that beat everything in that time. They had the opportunity to do this due to the gold that Portugal had from Brazil. In this period, Portugal was one of the richest countries in the world. So, they had no problem to build such a palace. Dom João V was fascinated about a lot of cultures. From everywhere he had been, there must be something brought inside of the palace.

"Carillons from the masters of Flanders"
mafra carillons double palace view

For example, the carillons and bells came from Belgium. Because, in that time, they had the best knowledge and the best price. Also, a belfry is something typical from Flanders. He loved it, and wanted the same in his palace: a bell sound for each sort of activity. Due to the fact he was wondered about how cheap it was, he decided immediately to build 2 of them.

"The most impressive library in the world"

The palace holds one of the most impressive libraries in the world. There can be stored around 30 000 books. All are flanked with a lot of marble, exotic wood and artworks from France, Flanders and Italy. To protect the books against aging, they use a simple but effective way. Do you know which one? It is with a flying animal...

mafra palace impressive biblioteca library view

The sorrow of Portugal

"A nickname for the cost"

According to the cost to build this impressive palace, it is sometimes called:

"The sorrow of Portugal"

How to reach?

By car

The most fast and flexible way, is to travel by car. Portugal is a nice country for road trips.

You reach Mafra from Lisboa by following the highway A8 in the direction of Torres Vedras. In around 40 minutes, you arrive in Mafra. But of course, also from Torres Vedras itself, Sintra or the coast line, you can reach Mafra.

By bus

Taking the bus is a good alternative in Portugal. It is cheap, they are comfortable, are on time and bring you in a relative fast way from point A to B. An extra plus, you sit between the locals.

From Lisboa you can reach Mafra by bus, from Campo Grande. The bus company is Mafrense. It takes around 40 minutes to reach Mafra. For the national palace, take bus stop "Convento de Mafra".

Also take a look at Rome2rio. For each place in the world, you get an overview of how it is possible to travel. You imediately get the transport time, price and eventually transfer of transport.

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"The fishermen town on the Atlantic Ocean"

The old fishermen town

"Charm near the Atlantic Ocean"

When you travel a little bit further to the Atlantic coastline, you will arrive in Ericeira. This is a charming, romantic, old fishermen town of Mafra. If you have the possibility to go, don't miss it. Make a trip to Ericeira. Also go to the Praia dos Pescadores. For these who love to surf, than is Ericeira one of your places to be.

Visit the coast line

"A large Portuguese coast line"

Portugal has a very long coast line. It all is located near the Atlantic Ocean. So, you reach from almost anywhere in the country the coast on a relative easy way. Many of these places near the ocean have charming fishermen towns. This means that you don't may miss to see the wonders of the Portuguese coast line, if you have the opportunity.

How to reach?

By car

Of course, the most common way to reach Ericeira, is by car. You can take the national roads (EN) or highway coming from Mafra, Torres Vedras, Sintra or of course the coast line itself.

By bus

Also the bus is a good option. Beside that Portugal is a nice country for road trips, it also has a good public transport network. You can take the bus from Lisboa to Ericeira. If you visist first the national palace of Mafra, you can also take the bus over there to Ericeira. The public transport to Ericeira is operated by Mafrense.

You can also take a look at Rome2rio to find out the way that fits you the best. You imediatly get an overview of the price and travel time.

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You want to read more and get noticed about the posts ideal for you. Well, subscribe to our newsletter. This is the ideal way to stay tuned about all our posts and videos in the spotlight and selected for you.

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