When you hear Marquês de Pombal, you probably think of the statue at the center of Lisbon’s malfunction-junction circular in front of Parque Eduardo VII. And you’d be right, more or less— the dude atop that pillar, standing proudly next to a lion, is Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, who was once the Secretary of the State of Internal Affairs of the Kingdom and the first (of nine) Marquês de Pombal — more often than not, these two titles were held simultaneously. He’s best known for his work to lessen the influence of the Portuguese Inquisition and, of course, for the anti-seismic architectural style adopted in Lisbon after the 1755 earthquake, known as pombalino.
Today, he would be considered more or less the same as Prime Minister, so it’s no wonder this guy needed a snazzy palace to call his own whilst in office.
Inspired by Versailles, Palácio do Marquês de Pombal in Oeiras is an 18th-century Baroque palace and gardens designed and built by Carlos Mardel, a renowned Hungarian architect who had a lot to do with the development of the Pombaline technique. The house is located in Oeiras and is comprised of an elaborate chapel, large stone staircases, impressively painted ceilings in most of the rooms, and meticulously painted tiles throughout the property. The most inspiring part of the estate, however, is the surrounding gardens and the surprises that lie in wait around every turn.
There’s a poet’s waterfall, mosaics made from broken dishes, bust-topped columns, mazes of hedges, a wide range of flowers, Roman-inspired pools, a delicate bridge, and perfectly maintained lawns. The list goes on and on, so perhaps its best to see it for yourself.
But don’t go expecting to meet the heirs of the last Marquês, powdered wigs and all — the palace now belongs the Oeiras City Hall.
Address: Largo Marquês Pombal 21, Oeiras
Hours: Tue – Sun, 10h – 18h
Phone: 214 408 300