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Palace of Necessidades (Palácio das Necessidades)

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 royal architect.

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 work.

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 Map&Location

Address: Largo do Rilvas, 1350, Portugal. Get help with directions using the map provided bellow:

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Palace of Necessidades Photos

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Palace of Necessidades exterior © Jaime Silva
Palace of Necessidades (2) from
Palace of Necessidades Interior 
Photos © Art Library Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian