At the start of our walk I had no idea we would be discovering the home of an English Queen, I was too distracted by the Portuguese man of inexhaustible activity and what seemed at the time an almost impossible goal of completing the walk. A horrid cold which had been slowing me down for a few days had finally taken hold. It was an effort to even get dressed, however I was determined we should do something as it was quite gorgeous out and this would be our last full day in Lisbon for a year. I managed to convince MrB I was up for a short stroll to one of Lisboa’s fabulous view points. Unfortunately I hadn’t quite taken into account the viewpoint I had set my heart on was located on one of the highest hills! Fortunately though there were numerous recovery points where we could stop and enjoy the views and tiles
Eventually we found ourselves at Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, and I must admit I was disappointed. It is meant to be one of the best view points in Lisbon, however I preferred the views we had enjoyed from the roof of the reservoir.
Maybe we should have timed our arrival for sunset, or maybe we should have kept it for a day for when I was feeling 100%. Whatever the reason it didn’t quite hit the spot for me, however it was from here that I spied a rather glorious building.
I was intrigued as it seemed only yards from Campo das Mártires da Pátria. How one earth had we missed it. Clearly we needed to take a different route back.
It wasn’t long before we found ourselves in a wide road and in front of a rather splendid and large building, and then we spotted the statue. Excitement!
We had unexpectedly found a palace fit for a Queen! This had one been the home of Catherine of Braganza, King Charles II’s Queen Consort and also the royal who made tea popular in England. She had returned to Portugal eight years after the death of her husband King Charles II, and for a short while resided with Lisboa’s nobles. Eventually she purchased land here in Bemposta and commissioned João Antunes, one of the most important Baroque architects of his time, to build her a palace. It was and still is officially known as Palácio da Bemposta, but apparently it is more commonly known as Paço da Rainha, the residence of the queen.
On Catherine’s death in 1705 the palace was willed to her brother King Peter II of Portugal, and it remained a royal home and centre of administration until the mid 19th century when it became a military academy. And it is still a military academy today; providing officer training and education for both the Portuguese Army and the Republican National Guard.
We were surprised to learn, given its current occupants, that the palace is open to the public. Unfortunately though we were not able to able to take advantage of this as the days/times are very restrictive and we had a train to catch the following day. However we do plan a return visit, and so hopefully one of these days I will be able to show you inside. I say hopeful because I must admit I am not 100% sure we will be successful. The sign stating the opening times we noticed was temporary, and I have not been able to find anything online since which confirms the current status. However it is definitely worth a try as I have discovered photographs of the inside, and it looks stunning. If you want to have a go yourself at visiting it would seem the best time to try is a Monday afternoon. Good luck!