6 Impressive Palaces Not to Miss in Lisbon


We’re pleased to note that one of our oldest routes, Madrid to Lisbon, turns 85 this year. It was Iberia‘s first international route, in 1939, and today it’s one of the ones with the most daily flights between Madrid.

And for good reason! Portugal’s capital – with a population of a bit over a half million – is a savoury mix of culture, history and cuisine that’s been percolating since its founding some 3,000 years ago by Iberian tribes which predated even the Celts and the Phoenicians.

More “recently” – in the past several centuries – the old aristocratic classes surrounding the royal court as well as the bourgeois merchant class, built splendid mansions and other buildings which lend parts of the central city a unique charm. Furthermore, many have been restored and converted into museums, hotels, and restaurants. Here are a distinguished half dozen – two of each type – which are definitely worth a visit:



Ajuda Palace

Located just uphill from the Belém neighbourhood, about 20 minutes from downtown, this neoclassical pile was built in 1795 and was the residence of the Portuguese royal family during the 19th century and up to 1910. Visitors can tour the ostentatious interior, see the equally opulent jewelry displayed in the Royal Treasury Museum, and get and eyeful of the 3.5-hectare (8½-acre) botanical garden across the street, which predates the palace by 27 years.




Palace of the Marquises of Fronteira

Built in 1671 as a hunting lodge, now in a quiet neighbourhood near the Monsanto Forest Park, just 15 minutes from downtown, it offers interesting guided tours, with notable spaces including the library, the Room of the Battles, (with depictions of, as the name suggests, a number of important engagements in Portugal´s military history), and the chapel, the oldest part of the mansion, its façade adorned with stones, shells, broken glass, and porcelain. In the beautiful gardens you´ll find the monumental Gallery of the Kings and quite a few decorative elements depicting marine and mythological motifs.

Chiado Palace

Named for the central Lisbon district in which it´s located, this genteel, 243-year-old manse was a decade ago transformed into a bar and restaurant featuring chef Manuel Bóia´s exquisite menu of nouvel Portuguese and international cuisine, amidst grandiose surroundings and breathtaking artwork.

Grilo Palace

A 2,500-square-metre (nearly 27,000-sq.-foot) neoclassical manse in the eastern Beato district which once belonged to the bastard son of a Portuguese king, the Grilo is a handsome affair, indeed, with impressive frescoes and azulejos (the classic blue-and-white Portuguese ceramic tiles). And it was was renovated in 2022, adding funky postmodern touches such as furniture on the walls – and reopened as restaurant with a nouvel Portuguese/international menu, as well as a surrealist “immersive theatre experience”, with quirky characters doing quirky things in quirky places – and your servers in on the act, too.



Vale Flor Palace

Built in the western Alcântara district at the beginning of the 20th century for a marquis who made a killing in coffee in Portugal´s West African island colony São Tomé and Principe and elsewhere, since 2001 this neoclassical/eclectic pile has been the luxury flagship of the Pestana Group, this country´s top hotel conglomerate. The Pestana Palace Hotel Lisbon, a Leading Hotels of the World member, features opulent, Louis XV-inspired décor with plenty of marble, gilded wood, frescoed walls, and stained glass windows. In addition to 190 rooms and four “royal suites”, the property features a fine spa, an elegant nouvel-Portuguese restaurant, a swimming pool, and a fitness centre. The surrounding gardens are also a feast for the senses.



Palacete Chafariz d´El Rei

Dating from the late 19th century, this is another manse of a coffee magnate (this time in Brazil) turned exclusive hostelry, run by Portugal´s Unlock Boutique Hotels group. Located up on the edge of Lisbon´s oldest neighbourhood, the Alfama, (and therefore offering great views out over the city and the Tagus River), this four-storey property is a handsome, antiques-furnished mix of Brazilian Art Nouveau, neo-Baroque, and neoclassical styles with neo-Moorish touches, and it´s “boutique” indeed, with just six suites along with another fine nouvel-Portuguese restaurant (which by the way is especially noted for its brunch). Plus it´s pet friendly!

Photos: BrasilNut1; StockPhotosArt; BackyardProduction; ribeiroantonio; Julia700702