Fodor's Expert Review Paço Ducal

Vila Viçosa Castle/Palace Fodor's Choice

This opulent palace draws a great many visitors—and for good reason. Built of locally quarried marble, the palace's main wing extends for some 360 feet and overlooks an expansive square and the bronze equestrian statue of Dom João IV. At the north end of the square note the Porta do Nó (Knot Gate) with its massive stone shaped like ropes—an intriguing example of the Manueline style.

The palace's interior was extensively restored in the 1950s and contains all you'd expect to find: intricate rugs, frescoed ceilings, priceless collections of silver and gold objects, Chinese vases, Gobelin tapestries, and a long dining hall adorned with antlers and other hunting trophies. The enormous kitchen's spits are large enough to accommodate several oxen, and there's enough gleaming copper to keep a small army of servants busy polishing. Dom Carlos, the nation's penultimate king, spent his last night here before being assassinated in 1908; his rooms have been maintained as they were. Carlos... READ MORE

This opulent palace draws a great many visitors—and for good reason. Built of locally quarried marble, the palace's main wing extends for some 360 feet and overlooks an expansive square and the bronze equestrian statue of Dom João IV. At the north end of the square note the Porta do Nó (Knot Gate) with its massive stone shaped like ropes—an intriguing example of the Manueline style.

The palace's interior was extensively restored in the 1950s and contains all you'd expect to find: intricate rugs, frescoed ceilings, priceless collections of silver and gold objects, Chinese vases, Gobelin tapestries, and a long dining hall adorned with antlers and other hunting trophies. The enormous kitchen's spits are large enough to accommodate several oxen, and there's enough gleaming copper to keep a small army of servants busy polishing. Dom Carlos, the nation's penultimate king, spent his last night here before being assassinated in 1908; his rooms have been maintained as they were. Carlos was quite an accomplished painter, and many of his works (along with private photos of Portugal's last royal family) line the walls of the apartments.

The ground floor of the castle has displays of objects ranging from Paleolithic to 18th century and mainly Roman artifacts discovered during excavations. These include pieces from ancient Mediterranean civilizations—Egypt, Rome, Carthage, and also pre-Columbian. Also on view are coaches from the 17th to the 20th century. Hunting, rather than war, is the dominant theme of the armory that holds more than 2,000 objects. The treasury displays crucifixes from Vila Viçosa and those belonging to Dona Catarina de Bragança as well as more than 200 pieces of jewelry, paintings, crystal, and ceramics. The porcelain collection is made up of blue-and-white china from the 15th to 18th centuries.

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Castle/Palace Fodor's Choice

Quick Facts

Terreiro do Paço
Vila Viçosa, Évora  7160-251, Portugal

268-980659

www.fcbraganca.pt

Sight Details:
Rate Includes: €7

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