Queluz Palace & Gardens | Lisbon

Queluz Palace

Before I dip into my trip to Venice from last week, I have one last Lisbon post from last year to share with you. And not any post, this was hands down my very favourite place I visited last year. And it might well be one of my favourite places of all time, actually. Queluz Palace & Gardens oozes so much magic and atmosphere, I’ve had a hard time not to violently pinch myself during the whole visit. The palace has been aptly described as an ‘expensive birthday cake’. I couldn’t have worded it better!

Queluz PalaceQueluz PalaceQueluz PalaceQueluz Palace

This 18th century palace is often referred as the ‘Portuguese Versailles and as I pushed the entrance door leading to the ball room, the comparison stared at me in the face from the mirrored walls tirelessly reflecting the scintillating chandeliers and the gilded fixtures . There, in front of me, was standing a smaller-scale Hall of Mirrors.
I visited the palace in January last year and I practically had the place to myself. I leisurely inspected (and took one gazillion photos of) the period rooms, filled with intricate objects from the time (I especially enjoyed the porcelain and glassware collection), the incredible frescoes on the walls achieved by French artisans nearly three hundred years ago and the surprising ‘his & hers’ loos.

This temple of rococo was initially the summer residence for the Portuguese royal family. They ended up moving in until they escaped to Brazil following the French invasion in the beginning of the 19th century. Since the 1908, it has been the property of the state and in 1940, the palace was opened to the public. It serves also as a residence for visiting heads of the state.

Even though, the place looks like a beautiful fluffy pink dream today, it was the witness of several tragedies in the royal Portuguese family, from the death of the King on the marigold bed pictured above to the madness of the Queen. She was kept hidden in this golden padded palace of sorts until her death.

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When I stepped outside to explore the surrounding gardens, I was met by a display of falconry on the steps of the palace. I watched the hawk going back and forth between trainers for a little while then I headed towards the jardins à la française. I believe there is also a horse show but it probably takes place in the high season.
I walked along the topiary and felt so blessed to be in such a unique place. The grounds looked particularly enchanting that day as a fine foggy mist wrapped the pink palace. Unfortunately as magical as it was, it also meant I had to shorten my visit as I was getting a tad worried for my camera with the humidity. I would love to go back in Summer to see what blooms brighten up the gardens.

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Queluz Palace

If you want to make the trip to Queluz (which obviously I strongly recommend if it wasn’t clear enough from the above gushing), head down to Rossio Station in Lisbon. There are train to Sintra every 20 minutes or so, hop on one and get off at Queluz (the fare is €1.55/one way). The journey takes about 20 minutes (Queluz is half way between Lisbon and Sintra) and you will need to walk 15 minutes to get to the palace. Alternatively, you can take the bus 157 outside the station.

So this concludes the entierety of my Lisbon posts, I hope you enjoyed them and that you picked up a recommendation or two along the way. The next time you will hear about Lisbon on this blog will be more than likely my guide, hopefully downloadable. In the meantime, you can always check out the mini guide I wrote for Atlas Addicts if you’re leaving for the City of Seven Hills soon (lucky you!). 

Queluz Palace

Practical Information

Queluz Palace & Gardens – website
Largo Palacio de Queluz, 2745-191
Queluz

Opening Hours: 9am-5.30pm (last ticket 5pm)

Admission: General €8.50 / Children <6yo Free / Children <18yo 7€   / Senior 8 € (combined ticket for palace + gardens)
General €3.50 / Children <6yo Free / Children <18yo €2.50 / Senior €3 (ticket for gardens only)

Train: Queluz-Belas stop (on the Lisbon-Sintra Line)

Quinta da Regaleira | Lisbon

Quinta da RegaleiraQuinta da Regaleira

When I saw Carrie’s post on her visit to Quinta de Regaleira, I knew I needed to check this magical place out for myself; surely it couldn’t be real, it was some photoshop trick or something.
So when I had the chance to visit Lisbon at the beginning of this year, a trip to Sintra, where Quinta da Regaleira is located, was high on my priority list.
Sintra, if you’ve never heard of it, is this little town, a mere 40 minute train journey away from Lisbon. While it is a picturesque little village very stairs-y and colourful, it is also weird in the way that it is surrounded by so many fairytale castles.
It was my aim to visit as many palaces as possible but that was without taking into consideration my unfit state, the rain and my propensity to take things a little bit too easy. Basically I got caught in a rainstorm in a middle of ascending a hill, trying to reach the Palacio de Pena just before closing time. Moral of the story: take the bloody bus when you see it.

Quinta da Regaleira

Luckily though, I made one wise decision and that was to visit Quinta da Regaleira upon my immediate arrival to Sintra. And I’m happy to report Carrie’s pictures were telling the truth. Quinta da Regaleira is truly a magical place. What I liked about it the most is it’s not only magical in a fairytale kind of way, it also has a dark and creepy side. When I got a first sight of the palace above the wall from the street, I had the feeling that I was facing the Portuguese Manderley. Maybe it was the January chill or my vivid imagination, but I couldn’t help shiver a bit.

Quinta da RegaleiraQuinta da Regaleira

Although owned for many years by the Regaleira family, the estate became the oddity it is today when a Brazilian millionnaire bought it and with the help of an Italian architect, remodeled the place after his interest in the occult during the first decade of the 20th century. He drew his inspiration for the garden features from secret societies like the the Freemasons, the Knights Templar and the Rosicrucians while also using symbols from Alchemy. The result is one of the most enchanting and mysterious place I ever seen, it kinda made me wish to be 10 again and have a massive hide-and-seek party.

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The gardens are laid out on a hillside, they feature underground tunnels, grottoes, fountains, ponds, turrets and a chapel. But the pièce de résistance is without a doubt the Initiation Well, which is inspired by the masonic rites. As you go down the spiral staircase, you can see on the bottom of the well, the Knights Templar’s cross.

Quinta da RegaleiraQuinta da RegaleiraQuinta da Regaleira

Unfortunately the house felt a bit like a disappointment after the amazement of the gardens. The actual features, feminine frescoes, beautiful tilework and intricate woodcarving, offered an interesting contrast to the dark character of the gardens, and while they were certainly pleasing to the eye, I couldn’t help but be a little underwhelmed by the use of the rooms. They were some objects displayed under glass and architecture drawings you could flick through, but nothing quite captured my imagination as the otherworldly landscape outside.

With that being said, I visited Quinta da Regaleira in January and as I understand it many rooms were closed as well as the balcony which I would have loved to stand on and enjoy a panoramic view on the estate. So my advice would maybe skip the indoors during Winter season if you’re in a hurry, unless you have a thing for romantic wall paintings, they’re really quite beautiful.

Quinta da RegaleiraQuinta da Regaleira
Quinta da RegaleiraQuinta da Regaleira

Top tip: Bring a torch or some powerful source of light to explore the underground tunnels. The one leading up to the Initiation Well is lit up with fairy lights but the rest are dark as the soul of the tea. I didn’t have any light on me but was adamant to try to explore one of them near the pond, it only took a few steps until I freaked out… yep, definitely not the adventure backpacker travel blogger you were looking for here.

 

Quinta da Regaleira

Practical Information

Quinta da Regaleira – website
Rua Barbosa do Bocage, 5
2710-567 Sintra
Portugal

Opening Hours: 10am – 5.30pm (Nov-Jan) / 10 – 6.30pm (Feb-Mar & Oct) / 10am – 8pm (Apr-Sep)

Train: Sintra Station

Admission Fee: Adult 6€ / Concession & Children >14yo 4€ / Children <9yo Free / Children <14yo 3€

Jerónimos Monastery | Lisbon

jeronimos monastery courtyard

After the wonderful visit to the Coach Museum in Belem, I couldn’t help but trot off to the Jeronimos Monastery… Often at the top of Lisbon’s guides and personal must-see lists, the monastery, a fine flagship of the manueline style, has impressed and taken many a breath away for hundreds of years.

The structure is deeply connected with Portugal’s History. It was built at the end of the 15th century, on the order of King Manuel I, thanks to the gold that Vasco de Gama brought back from his explorations. The manueline architecture calls back to those voyages, incorporating maritime elements as well as influences drawing from Indian Temples.

It took 100 years to complete the construction. It was then inhabitated by the monks of the order of Saint Jerome. They were appointed for the sole pupose of comforting sailors  and praying for the King’s soul. Despite their busy spiritual agenda, they also managed to fit time in to invent only the most delicious pastry in the Universe: the famous pasteis de nata, Lisbon’s celebrated custard tarts.

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In 1833, the monastery was turned into an orphanage and a school and while I was walking under the honey-coloured stoned arcades, I couldn’t help but thinking it must have felt like an epic Portuguese version of Hogwarts back then.

Top Tip: If you’re on a tight budget, don’t overlook a visit to the monastery as the entrance to the annexed church, Santa Maria, is free (and I may have preferred it to the cloister but shhhh…)

santa maria church nave
tomb of luis de camoesreligious icons church of santa maria
benches church of santa maria
religious icon church of santa maria
stained glass window church of santa maria
jesus icon church of santa mariachurch of santa maria ceiling cross

Appropriately, Santa Maria Church holds the tomb of Vasco de Gama as well as the most beautiful religious icons I’ve ever laid my eyes upon. The craftmanship is outstanding. But that aside, I think the most important thing you must do once you step inside is to look up… holy guacamole, that ceiling…

jeronimos monastery side

Practical Information

Jeronimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jeronimos)
Praça do Império
1400-206 Lisbon

http://www.mosteirojeronimos.pt/en/index.php

Train: Belém Station (Cascais Line)
Tram: 15
Bus: 28, 714, 728, 729, 751

Opening Hours: 10am – 5.30pm (Oct – May) / 10am – 6.30pm (May-Sep)
Closed on Mondays, January 1st, Easter Sunday, May 1st and December 25th

Admission to the cloister: Adults 10€ / Seniors 5€ / Students 5€ / Children <12yo Free / Teenagers <18yo 5€ / Combined passes for Belem’s attractions
Free on the first Sunday of the month and Holidays until 2pm

Admission to Santa Maria Church: Free

 

National Coach Museum | Lisbon

coach museum lisbon
inside the coach

The National Coach Museum is proper fairy-tale material.
When I went to Lisbon earlier this year, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to spend some time among beautiful carriages worthy of a hundred Cinderellas. You could say I needed my dose of Rococo and the museum was suitably decadent. The place is crammed with historical coaches whose heydays were spent carrying Portuguese royals, European high nobility and Popes. And one thing I learnt about 18th century Popes, when it came to their vehicles, it was the flamboyant way or the highway. Popemobiles have had a rough evolution, that’s for sure.

rococo ceilingcoach museum lisbonantique stirrupscoach museum lisboncoach museum lisboncoach's keys + decorationsazulejos

I think all this gold and silk intimidated me and I had a hard time setting my camera, it just wouldn’t do what I wanted. I suffered from a severe case of lense-fright!
Also if there’s any photographers out there looking to visit the place, prefer a wide angle lens. The coaches are parked like sardines, it looks like coronation day in there.

historical carriage's detailcoach drivers' decorations
coach museum lisbon

Anyways, technicalities aside, I had a regal time inspecting all the carriages, ooh-ing and aah-ing and wondering how on Earth the silk and the velvet covering the seats survived the 4 seasons again and again.
On the second floor of the museum, multiple accessories are housed under glass displays. Intricate stirrups, the coach drivers’ uniforms and beautiful keys can be found among other treasures. I can’t think of a better place to play pretend! Hear ye, hear ye!

coach museum lisbon

Practical Information

National Coach Museum
Praça Afonso de Albuquerque
1300-004 Lisbon

http://en.museudoscoches.pt/

Train: Belém Station (Cascais Line)
Tram: 15
Bus: 28, 714, 727, 729, 743, 749, 751

Opening Hours: 10am-6pm
Closed on Mondays, January 1st, May 1st, Easter Sunday and December 25th

Admission Fee: General 5€/ Senior 2,50€ / Youth-card holders 2€

Free entrance on Sundays and Bank Holidays until 2pm

Oceanario | Lisbon

rays

How happy do those smiling rays look, cruising around in one of the biggest aquariums in Europe? The Lisbon Oceanarium is a bit out-of-the-way, but the 15-minute-ish metro ride from the city centre is well worth the effort. With several sections representing 5 different seas’ habitats, the range of species to examine is impressive.

tropical fish aquarium
seahorse + aquarium watching

When you first come in you’re met with the giant indoor aquarium that shelters sharks, majestic rays and plenty of schools. Keep an eye for the lonely sunfish, a rarety in captivity as it is a difficult one to take care of. I am not going to lie, I still haven’t figured out how it manages to move forward with its tiny fins awkwardly placed on its giant body.

tropical fish
clownfish

But the real main attraction of this aquarium is the presence of two very playful sea otters. I couldn’t for the life of me capture them in picture as they seemed to be in the middle of an intense game of hide-and-seek, you’ll have to trust my words now when I tell you they were one of the cutest things I have ever seen.

orange tropical fish + sea anemones
blue tropical fish

Other highlights of the place for me were the puffins who looked like they were holding a very important conference, and some extremely sassy pink tropical fish that were jazzing up the dark tanks.

puffin conference
pink tropical fish

Also, psychedelic jellyfish! Need I say more?

jellyfish quote

Practical Information

Oceanario de Lisboa
Esplanada D. Carlos I – Doca Dos Olivais
1990-005 Lisboa

http://www.oceanario.pt/

Metro: Oriente (when you get out of the station, go towards the Vasco de Gama shopping centre, go through it, you’ll be facing the sea front, the Oceanarium is on your right)
Bus: 5, 10, 19, 21, 28, 50, 68, 81, 82, 85

Opening Hours: 10am-8pm (summer) / 10am-7pm (winter)
Entrance: General 13€ / Seniors 11€ / <3 year old Free / <12 year old 11€
Additional charge for temporary exhibitions. 

Estufas | Lisbon

estufa fria flower
estufa fria lisbon

Estufas in Portuguese mean glasshouses and if you’re anything like me, it’s the kind of words that make your heart sing in every language. If you’re having a stroll through Eduardo VII Park (check out the view over the city while you’re there!), pop by these greenhouses, I think they make for a beautiful, peaceful break after spending the day in the charming hustle and bustle of Lisbon.

estufas statue
cactus estufa quente

The history behind this place is a bit of an interesting one. It was actually meant to be a shelter for the exotic plants imported to adorn the closeby Avenida da Liberdade (Lisbon’s Champs Elysées you could say), but World War I put everything on hold and the plants took roots. Years later, this space was re-discovered and turned into a public greenhouse in 1933.

estufa doce
camelia estufa fria
estufa doce door
estufa doce 3

The Lisbon Estufas comprise of three glasshouses:
Estufa Fria (Cold Greenhouse) which is not technically a glass house as it is just covered by a lath roof, this space houses plants that can live in Portuguese climate such as ferns, palm trees and the beautiful camellias.
Estufa Quente (Hot Greenhouse) is reserved for tropical species such as mango, banana or coffee trees. I suspect it must be a far more exciting visit when those are in season.
Estufa Doce (Mild Greenhouse) was my favourite as it houses all the cacti and succulents. One species I especially enjoyed was the cactus that sported spooky eyes on its stem.

estufa quente 2
estufa fria 3
cactus estufa quente 3

Practical Information

Estufa Fria de Lisboa
Parque Eduardo VII
Lisbon

http://estufafria.cm-lisboa.pt/a-estufa/the-greenhouse.html?L=1

Metro: Parque/Marques de Pombal
Bus: Marques de Pombal is a bus terminus so the bus possibilities are endless

Opening Hours: 10am – 7pm (March-Oct) / 9am – 5pm (Oct-March)
Closed on January 1st, May 1st & December 25th

Admission Fee: Adults 3,10€ / <18 year old 2,33€ / Students & Pensioners 1,55€ / Children <6 year old Free
Free on Sundays and Bank Holidays until 2pm

The Doll Hospital | Lisbon

doll parts
doll heads

On Plaça da Figueira, where people come to buy renowned pastries and taxi drivers love to bicker, there is a tiny toy shop that looks like any other. But the dolls who are hanging out in the window, quietly know they’re in good hands.
If you go inside and pay a modest 2 euro you’ll be shown to a room on the first floor where hundreds of eyes are staring at you and doll limbs of all eras are neatly kept in drawers. This is the place where Lisbonites have been coming to bring their broken toys for generations. The Doll Hospital history goes back as far as 1830, when Ms. Carlota was the person to go to on market days, when your doll wasn’t feeling too well. Since then, it has turned into a family business and I was surprised to see the shelves full of patients in this age of video games and iPhones.
But the lovely guide lady reassured me that children of today were still trusting their best friends’ health into the Hospital de Bonecas’ hands. The repair service actually not only includes dolls (from antique to Barbie) but also their clothes and shoes, stuffed toys, miniatures and religious figures.

doll feet
dolls cabinet bw
dolls bed
dolls doctor
ticket hospital de bonecas
The Hospital de Bonecas’ lovely museum ticket

The museum is only a couple of rooms, plus the ‘operating table’ where the toys are mended but what I loved the most, even more than the weird doll bits congregated in every corners was the obvious care and passion invested into those little helpless toys.

hospital de bonecas front

Practical Infortmation

Hospital de Bonecas
Praça da Figueira, 7
Lisbon

http://www.hospitaldebonecas.com/en/

Metro: Rossio
Bus: 12E, 15E, 208, 714, 736, 737, 760

Opening Hours: Mon-Sat, 10.30am-12.30pm/3.30pm-5pm
Entrance: 2€