Thursday, 5 July 2012

Deadly decor

Day 68 29.06.12 Mafra

We got up early and got on the road to Mafra to see the famous National Palace, known for being so extravagant that it nearly bankrupted the country when it was built in the 18th century.  When we arrived we discovered they were doing huge-scale renovations and we couldn’t find the way to the free car park, getting stuck in a paid spot with a two hour limit.  The entry fee was a little steep and the staff not hugely helpful either.  Not the best of starts.

The palace was enjoyable to explore.  Whilst some of the rooms weren’t hugely impressive, others were jaw dropping.  The sheer scale of the massive library, home to 35,000 books, was extraordinary.  The old books have been immaculately preserved as a flock of bats living in the eaves of the room have kept it free from insects! 

The hunting themed room Sala dos Trofeus was very macabre with walls entirely covered in antlers, deerskin furniture and trophy heads used to make an incredibly creepy chandelier!  The chapel attached is also intricately decorated and very grand.  Some of the marble floors and ceilings were also very striking.   
Sadly the gardens were disappointingly small given the ginormous size of the palace itself.  I must say I think we both felt a little let down by the palace after everything we’d heard.  Perhaps since it’s one of the first places we’ve paid a proper amount of money to visit we expected a little more grandeur.  Some of the rooms were incredible but they were just a bit too few and far between.  That said it was an interesting if somewhat rushed whistle-stop tour!

Since we couldn’t stay in Mafra as we’d previously intended, we headed to our next planned stop of Sintra.  A hellish drive later we arrived in a perfect car park; centrally located, very green and completely free.  We had a quick walk around to acquaint ourselves with the centre and then settled down for a quiet evening after a hectic day.

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