MafraTown Related Links
MafraHistory

Located to the north of Lisboa is the impressive Palácio de Mafra in the small town of the same name. It was commenced in 1717 in the reign of Dom João V. The initial project was less ambitious in size.

The King committed himself to his church to build a new monastery for 13 Franciscan friars as a seal of his faith and in penance for his well-known sexual extravagances. During its long history the Palace has been mainly used by the Royal Family as a home when hunting in its adjoining forest for deer and wild boar.

The monastery was abandoned in 1834 after Dom João V had dissolved all religious orders. The Royal quarters were last used by Dom Manuel II as an overnight resting-place on his escape to England in 1910 aboard his yacht moored at the nearby port of Ericeira.

MafraDescription

This impressive Baroque Palace when finished was enlarged to include 880 rooms and 330 cells for its monks. It also includes a small hospital and pharmacy, and a prize library.

Beautifully housed are about 36.000 rare books that include a first edition of “Os Lusíadas” by the famous Portuguese poet Luís de Camões.

This enlargement of the palace was made feasible by the vast wealth that suddenly flooded into the Royal coffers from Brazil. Besides its Basilica full of marble statues carved by Italian masters of that time, it also has separate royal suites for the King and his Queen linked by an extremely lengthy corridor that stretches 232 meters across the front of the Palace.

It can only be assumed that this acted as a timely warning when either party was entertaining privately and was about to receive a Royal visitor. This large Palace was inaugurated in 1730 with a notable celebration that lasted eight days and included most of the 52.000 workmen who had been involved in its construction.

Most of its interior furnishings were removed to Brazil when the King fled to Brazil in 1807 to avoid the invading French army. At present the Basilica is undergoing a renovation program and the first organ of the existing six has been restored. The organ was built in 1807 and consists of 1578 tubes.

The forest covered estate attached to the town and it now can be visited on foot, by vehicle or horseback. The estate is kept well stocked with wild game including boar and there is a museum with a small collection of antique horse drawn vehicles. Nearby is a Nature Centre for the Preservation of the Iberian Wolf which is also open to the public.

MafraNearby Locations

To the west of Mafra is the small port of Ericeira that retains a village atmosphere regardless of the invasion it suffers every summer from Lisbon populace. First recorded as in town in 1229 it was here that Mateus Álvares falsely declared himself King and locally attempted to act as such before he was arrested and sentenced to the galleys whilst all his supporters were hanged.

With its small fishing industry Ericeira is well known for its choice of restaurants offering the fresh catch of the day. There is a small museum in the town with items recording the flight of their King in 1910 and the history of the local fishermen and their boats. On the coast and to the south of Ericeira is the beach village of São Julião, where at the end of the tarmac road is a small Monastery originating from the 16th Century.

To the west of Mafra, between the town and the coastline is the village of Sobreiro where visitors can see the fascinating clay model village and its figures created by José(Zé) Franco. To the north of Mafra is the town of Torres Vedras overlooked by its restored 13th Century castle walls. Within the 16th Century Convento da Graça is a museum devoted to the epic story of of the “Linhas de Torres Vedras”.

In October of the year 1809, a defensive line of fortification was commenced on the order of the commander of the British Forces, Sir Arthur Wellesley. It was built to protect Lisbon in the south from the invading Napoleonic Army and was in total over 85 Kms. in length, with 152 fortified positions and over 600 defending guns.

The leader of the French army of 65.000 troops General Masséna, after testing its effectiveness and realizing its was almost impregnable fell back and he and his army retreated. Sir Arthur Wellesley was later to be awarded amongst others the title of "Duke of Wellington”.

MafraEvents and Useful Town Facts


Festa dos Merendeiros 4th April
Feira dos Alhos 3rd Sunday July



Postal Code 2640
Altitude 250 mts
Inhabitants 8.800


MafraTelephone Numbers


Town Hall 261 810 100
Fire Brigade 261 812 100
Police 261 815 124
Tourist Office 261 812 023
SOS 112
Support to Tourists 800 296 296

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