Queluz, Queluz, Queluz. Wow, this place took my breath away. I had no idea what to expect. I didn't know what the National Palace of Queluz was. It was lumped together with all the Parks of Sintra but I think this place deserves a category for itself. I had been to most of the sites in Sintra excluding the National Palace of Sintra as I just never felt the desire to check it out. I am sure it has plenty of things to enjoy. The thing with Queluz is that it is not in Sintra per se, you can't catch the bus around Sintra and end up at Queluz, you have to take the train there. It is not very hard. It is on the same line as the one going from Lisbon to Sintra or vice versa.
What troubled me about getting to Queluz was that I had purchased a return ticket straight to Lisbon. Talking to a few of the tourism office people and the ticket guy at the Moorish Castle, they seemed to think I needed to buy a separate ticket to Queluz and then another from Queluz to Lisbon. Getting to the Sintra train station, I asked the ticket man and he said just to get off at Queluz and it wouldn't be an issue. So taking the next train bound for Lisbon, I listened to my music and played a few games on my ipod.
The trouble I had was seeing the names of the stops from the train and I ended up missing the stop for Queluz-Belas and had to get off at Amadora, switch platforms and wait ten minutes for the next train going in the opposite direction. My bad! Getting off the train at Queluz-Belas, I looked around for any sort of indication of where to go. Managing to get directions off a man working in a shop, I exited the station. Attempting to follow the man's instructions, I found a sign indicating the Palace. I followed the sign but then was unsure if I was heading in the right direction or if I would just never find it. I found it. It was not a long walk but the thing about this palace is that it is in the suburbs of Lisbon. It takes a bit more effort to get to than the palaces in Sintra where you have a nice bus to drop you off at their doorsteps. There was no bus to drop me off in front of Queluz. I had to earn Queluz.
Approaching the palace from a hill, I wondered if I was in the right place. It definitely looked large enough to be a palace. There were not many signs indicating that it was the National Palace of Queluz. I was on the right side of it and here in the photo below I walked to where those cars were, on the right there is a restaurant. I was confused. Where was the entrance? I was confused even more by the random statue of a woman/elephant thing on the Queen of Portugal statue. I'll try not to think too much on that.
Finally managing to find the entrance, I stepped into the ticket office and paid €10.00 to enter the palace. Upon entering the ticket area, my shoes squeak squeak squeaked across the floor. Like the loud annoying squelching noise that can't be avoided no matter how you walk. Looking apologetically at the ticket guy, I squelched and squeaked out of the office, across the hall where I was allowed into the palace. The woman scanning my ticket said that the noise was normal and I would get used to it. I never got used to it.
Stepping into the first room, I was amazed. Was I alone and had this place all to myself? There was not another person in sight besides the people working in the building. The room reminded me a lot of the hall of mirrors in Versailles. I walked across it, trying to ignore how much the squeaking sounded in this beautiful room. I was glad that it was only me in here and not more tourists squeaking around me.
Squeaking from room to room, I looked at the information about each room and its importance. It was all very beautifully decorated and my mind kept transporting me back to Versailles but this wasn't Versailles, this was Queluz and I was all by myself.
That was until I found a small group of very cute Portuguese preschoolers in their matching smocks getting a private tour by one of the guides. The palace had a few actors dressed up acting out scenes for the children. I thought that was pretty amazing. I slipped past the children with no trouble after admiring all the tiles on the walls. Looking at the impressive coach resting in the room, it made me think of the last time I was in Lisbon and went into the National Coach Museum in Belem. That was a very enjoyable museum that surprised me.
Finding myself with an option to visit a horse library of sorts, I followed up a beautiful staircase to this little outdoor courtyard. Admiring the area but not finding the horse library, I found it when I stepped back inside. Oops. Entering, I admired all the art dedicated to horses thinking my sister's mother in law Carol would enjoy it. I snapped a photo of the large horse mannequin they had set up before peering through the windows to admire the gardens I would be exploring later.
Down the stairs I went, entering the lower part of the courtyard and taking some time for some selfies.
Back into the main palace, I walked through more rooms. Catching up once more with the school group. Passing them, jealous of their private guide.
I fell in love with the ceiling below. It was so beautiful and the chandelier was amazing. I would like this ceiling for my next bedroom.
Admiring the flooring in this room, I found myself joined by two other people. People invading my private palace. I could not complain, I had not been interrupted at all by anyone else the whole time I had been exploring. Surely I could share.
Exiting the palace into the sunshine, I admired the exterior of the building and grabbed my map to attempt to find my bearings.
This below is a tiled canal, covered in the typical 18th-century Portuguese tiles. Apparently when the sluice gates closed, the canal would fill with water and the scenes could be viewed by boat. Sounds pretty extravagant to me.
Leaving behind the tiled canal and following along my map to the best of my ability. Not wanting to get lost like I had in the gardens of Pena. I had lost the other two visitors by the tiled canal, they went one way I went the other. Snapping away as I walked, enjoying all the statues and fountains the gardens had. My mind kept flashing back to Versailles. These gardens were big and I was alone in them except for a few gardeners hard at work.
Heading towards Medallions Lake, the largest pond in the gardens I kept thinking to myself "I'm in the garden" from the Secret Garden movie.
Finding the Fountain of Neptune, I admired his little friends blowing into their conches? and the fact Neptune was missing his trident making him look like he was starting to do a dance. Two steps to the left, two steps to the right, cha, cha, cha.
Following along the path marked on my map, I came to a stop when my path was blocked by a cordon. Looking back to where I had come, I decided to go rogue and attempt to go by what was described as a tea pavilion where there appeared to be a bridge crossing near where the tiled canal was. Finding myself in some sort of work site, I slipped around it only to find the bridge blocked by a small mesh fence. It was to keep people out from the area I was now in. Looking at the workers, I was waved approval to climb over the mesh fencing and crossed the bridge. Attempting to find my way across the map and keep on time knowing the palace and gardens would close in an hour, not wanting to be abandoned in the maze of gardens.
I came across what is described as the Grand Cascade. Apparently the black mess is lead that has decayed? I am not quite sure. Does not sound healthy. Did not look great. Poor guy spewing out water onto himself..should get that checked out.
Onwards towards the French formal garden and the palace. I tried not to take too many photos of it all but it was just too pretty and I could not resist. Take all the photos, all of them.
Finishing my grand tour, I praised the worker about how amazing the building and gardens were. I was just gobsmacked that there were not more people here. She said it did get busier in the summer but besides the school group I had seen six other people. Six in the entire place. I cannot recommend this palace more, it was fantastic and I really enjoyed it. I had not known what to expect and was blown away by everything. They are doing more restorations on it and I hope that brings more people to see its beauty.
Side note: If you are curious about whether I had to pay again to get back to Lisbon, I did. €1.55 to get back to Lisbon from Queluz-Bisa. A price I did not mind paying. I used a €10 note and got no change. I was very confused, there seemed to be no one working in the train station, no ticket desk. Getting on the train bound for Lisbon, I asked the ticket conductor and he said it was because the machine had no change and to take my receipt to any ticket desk and they would give me my change. When I got to Rossio, I went to the ticket desk and sure enough I got my change back.