Monday, 3 August 2009

Queluz 1851

When the top of the ascent was gained (which is called Porcarlhota, I believe after a Portuguese queen-consort, named Carlota), we soon came into the neighbourhood of Queluz, a royal palace of great and distinguished ugliness. It stands at the left side of the highroad, at about half or a quarter of a mile's distance. It forms a portion of that personal property of the royal family of Braganza which was known by the name of the Infantado : it is not inappropriately situated in a frightful country. The whole seems meant to be, by the united endeavours of Nature and Art, a foil to the coming, crowning attractions of lovely Cintra.
I believe this palace was celebrated after the time of the civil war as the head-quarters of the Insurrectionist party. The Queen-mother at that time resided there in gloomy state, avoiding communication with the Court, and doing all that lay in her power to procure the return of her exiled son and the re- establishment of the ancient dynasty.
Queluz was a favourite residence of Dom John VI., as well as of Dom Miguel, who sought to soften down its ugliness,—for to talk of beautifying seems out of place here,—and to improve it in various ways. He failed in the first: it still stands there—an eyesore of an edifice, utterly ugly, and looking so indi- gestibly hard-favoured, that probably the great earthquake itself would have objected seriously to swallowing it up.
Dom Pedro died here. The bed on which he breathed his last is still exhibited to those who have leisure and any curiosity to see it. The room in which it stands is called Don Quixote's, from its having a representation of some of the far- famed hero's comical adventures traced upon the ceiling.
There is a large audience-room in this palace, and a saloon called that of the Talhas (vases), from having had once a collection of enormous China vases in it. It has some fine paintings on its ceiling. There is an agate Doric column in a private oratory here, originally taken from the excavations at Herculaneum, and given to Dom Miguel by the Pope Leo XII.: the agate is in one unbroken piece. Surrounding this palace are large pleasure-grounds and gardens, in which are some fine specimens of rare plants and trees, pieces of sculpture, jets-d'eau, warrens for game, conservatories, hot-houses, and fish-ponds. From Queluz there is a spacious heath, dull and barren, extending for some distance; but the hills afar look splendid.

Stuart-Wortley, p. 106-7

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