Portugal is a dream reborn in the prairies of Alentejo. In 1580, the king of Portugal died without an heir and the king of Spain inherited the throne of Portugal. After six decades of Spanish domination, a small group of nobles organized a coup to restore independence. They wanted to make Dom João of Braganza, a duke with royal blood who lived in Vila Viçosa, king of Portugal.
The king of Spain had arranged a marriage between Dom João and a Spanish aristocrat, Dona Luisa de Gusmão, hoping she would persuade the duke to support the Spanish rule. Instead, Dona Luisa became a passionate advocate for Portugal’s independence.
Dom João worried that the rebellion was likely to fail. He was willing to die for his country but did not like risking the fate of his wife and children. Dona Luisa convinced him to go forward with the words: “I would rather be queen for a day than duchess for life.” Portugal regained independence on December 1, 1640 and the duke became king João IV.
The ducal palace of Vila Viçosa is still owned by the House of Braganza. A visit to the palace is a rare glimpse into the domestic life of the royal family.
Dom Carlos, who ruled between 1889 and 1908, loved to vacation at Vila Viçosa. A talented painter, he covered the palace walls with his oils and watercolors. It was here that the king slept his last night before returning to Lisbon where he was assassinated.
There’s an elegant garden in the back of the palace that has no flowers. Catherine of Braganza, the Portuguese princess who married Charles II of England, banned flowers from royal gardens after learning that the king liked to pick them for his mistresses. In deference to Catherine, flowers were removed from the garden of the ducal palace.
The visit’s grand finale is the magnificent royal kitchen. It is equipped with 2.4 tons of copper pots used to prepare the elaborate banquets offered by the royal family to visiting aristocrats and foreign dignitaries.
If you’re traveling in Alentejo, don’t miss the chance to see the palace of Vila Viçosa, a retreat of kings where history was made.
10 thoughts on “The ducal palace of Vila Viçosa”
Yes, a wonderful town, and Palace. I visited in April and posted, and plan to return next year!
I’ve been there too. A few years ago 🙂
I’ve been in Portugal two years ago and I might say that this is one of the most incredible countries I’ve been visiting. I like everything about it: places, people, food! It is the best foreign food I’ve ever ate. And it is consider to be the best place in the world to eat fresh fish.
We hope you’ll come back soon!
Reblogged this on The Portugal Years and commented:
This place deserves a close look.
As usual, your blog is full of interesting historical information that I never knew before! You write a fascinating, worthwhile blog.
Thank you so much!
Fascinating about the flowers! We have only visited a few miles of Alentejo but want to explore more as it is a wonderful region, and now I have learnt thanks to you of somewhere to add to the list of discoveries. Looks wonderful.
It is really wonderful to travel in Alentejo!