Palace of Necessidades History
The original plan for the Palace of Necessidades,
built on the site of a chapel dedicated to Nossa Senhora das Necessidades, was probably made by
the Portuguese architect Custódio Vieira.
The Palacio first served as the residence of the brothers of King John
V (1706–1750) but was later used to house visiting dignitaries, such as the Prince of Wales
(the future George IV of Great Britain and Ireland) and his brother the Duke of Sussex. The
Duke of Wellington also inhabited the Palacio das Necessidades after 1808 as
Commander-in-Chief of the Anglo-Portuguese army.
In 1833 Pedro, Duke of Braganza, undertook the first major
alterations, replacing the tiled floors of the bedrooms and reception rooms with wooden boards.
The palace became the home of the Duke’s daughter, Maria II, both with her first husband,
Auguste de Beauharnais, Duke of Leuchtenberg, and after his death with her second husband,
Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. In 1844–1846 improvements and alterations were made by the
António Manuel da Fonseca, who had studied in Rome, was commissioned
to paint the interior: the Etruscan Room in the Pompeian style, the dining room, with its
hunting and fishing scenes, and the ceiling of the Red Room are good examples of his
The most beautiful paintings, however, are in the Renaissance Room and
are by Cinatti, who painted buildings of different architectural styles over the doors and in
medallions on the ceiling; these include views of the Palacio de Pena, Sintra, before the
enlargements made by Ferdinand, its façade and its Manueline cloister. Local craftsmen were
commissioned to provide furniture for the state rooms.
Following the death of Maria in 1853, further restoration of the
Palace of Necessidades was carried out by King Peter V, and more furniture,
plate and art objects were acquired in Lisbon and Paris in preparation for the King’s marriage
to Estephania of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.
The Queen lived there only briefly before her death in 1859, however,
and her husband died in 1861. His brother Luís, who succeeded him, occupied the Palacio de
Ajuda, and it was only in 1889 that the Palacio das Necessidades became a
royal residence again with the accession of Charles (1889–1908).
Further improvements and redecorations were planned, including a
gallery leading to the reception rooms and a new banqueting hall, by Francisco Vilaça, but
these decorations were left incomplete in 1910, when the monarchy fell from power.
The palace’s contents were dispersed among museums,
including the Museu de Arte Antiga in Lisbon. The building subsequently served as the
headquarters of the Lisbon army and as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Palace of Necessidades
Largo do Rilvas, 1350, Portugal. Get help with directions using the map provided
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