The main elevation is organized in three bodies, the central of the palace being higher and retreated in relation to the extremes. The other fronts of the building have a complex articulation of protruding and reentrant bodies, highlighting the cubic volume of the Room of Arms. Characteristic feature of this palace blend of Gothic, Manueline, Moorish, and Mudéjar styles in the present palace, mainly the result of building campaigns in the 15th and early 16th centuries.
Coat of Arms Room
This room, in the western wing of the Palace and oriented by the cardinal points, was erected over the Columns Room, in the area formerly called “Mecca”. The Manueline portal of the entrance also bears the marks of the masons who made it, in the first quarter of the 16th century. It represents the highest exponent of Manueline intervention in the Palace and the most important European heraldic hall. From the windows of this room you can see the Atlantic Ocean to the west.
A model for the coats of arms of this room was the Book of the Gunsmith (1509) and the Book of Nobility and Perfection of Arms (c. 1521-1541). The first is the most important and rich Portuguese armorial, ordered by D. Manuel I to fix the existing coats of arms, at a time when there were great arbitrariness in the use of weapons. The second revises and completes the previous one, becoming the national heraldic reference.
The ceiling of the Hall of Arms, an important heraldic record of the first quarter of the 16th century, is still a reference sought by Portuguese and Portuguese descendants from around the world.
Located at the highest point of the Palace, the Coat of Arms Room is the ultimate example of Manueline intervention in the building and the most important heraldic room in all of Europe.
– Octave dome closure: Portuguese royal weapons, topped by the winged serpent of the ruling Avis dynasty;
– Around the closure: coats of arms of the eight sons of King D. Manuel I with the second wife, D. Maria (daughter of the Catholic Kings). Six sons (coats of arms) and two daughters (coats of arms in split diamond);
– Above the lower panel deer: eight large deer with white streaks on the stems;
– At the lower level: the coats of arms of the 72 most influential noble families of the kingdom, resting on the body of deer upon whose heads rests the timbre of each family.
On the inscription surrounding the room you can read a reference to the weapons depicted:
WILD WITH Loyal Efforts SERVICES WERE WON WITH THESE AND OTHER SUCH MUST BE CONSERVED.
Most of the paintings date from the 16th century. Golden carved ornaments were added in the 17th century, and in the early 18th century, the walls were paneled with “blue and white” tiles depicting bucolic and hunting scenes, inspired by engravings of the time and attributed to the artist known as Mestre PMP. (the acronyms with which he has marked some of his works).
Tapestry with the Portuguese Royal Arms
Tapestry type verdure or millefleurs with dark blue background, decorated with floral elements that cover the entire field, with looped tape. Royal order, has in its center the coat of arms of the Portuguese royal arms, with the shield topped by the timbre with the winged serpent of Avis. In the four corners is represented the armillary sphere, company of D. Manuel I.
This is probably an order from members of the House of Avis or an offer for them, attributed to the manufacture of Brussels, the main Flemish center of production at the time.
Portugal commissioned from Flanders, between the mid-fifteenth century and the end of the sixteenth century, important tapestries series, being heraldic tapestries with extremely rare Portuguese coats of arms.
Afonso VI’s prison
King Afonso VI remained imprisoned and guarded here for nine years by order of his brother (D. Pedro II), following his removal for failure to reign. He would eventually die in this room in 1683.
It is one of the oldest rooms in the Palace, the only one whose window has an iron railing. The rare Mudejar ceramic floor probably dates back to the 15th century.
It is located in one of the oldest areas of the Palace, where the royal chambers prior to the works of King John I will be located. It is marked by the presence of a remarkable piece: a monumentalQing Dynasty Pagoda , built in China in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century.
The Chinese Pagoda is one of the Sintra Palace artworks proposed to be included in the list of Goods of National Interest, the highest Portuguese classification for movable cultural goods, also known as the “National Treasury”.
This piece attests to the secular relations between Portugal and the East, through Macao, territory whose administration was ceded by the Chinese to the Portuguese in 1557. Macao would soon become the basis of a prosperous trade involving China, Japan and Europe, through Malacca and Goa. His return to the People’s Republic of China in 1999 symbolically marked the end of the Portuguese Empire.
The Pagoda was probably offered to Queen D. Maria I by the Macao Senate and was first referenced at Ramalhão Palace, former residence of Queen D. Carlota Joaquina , wife of D. João VI , who resided there at the end of her life, in a semi-exile shared with Queluz . From Ramalhão Palace, the pagoda moved in 1850 to Sintra Palace, where it has been on display since then (Chinese Room or Pagoda). Due to its dimensions and high technical quality, it is a unique example of its kind. Pieces with similar characteristics are known in other collections, but of smaller dimensions and technical complexity.
This set of miniature architecture consists of nine pavilions or small temples flanked by two thirteen-story towers. It rests on a wooden structure and is made of ivory (mostly) and bone, in plates or in veneer. It develops in a succession of five planes interspersed with courtyards, gardens and staircases, where small ivory figures appear, in addition to other decorative details such as bells, votive inscriptions and vegetation. The set is housed in a period polychrome wooden dobby, whose architectural shape adapts to the volume of the three main bodies of the pagoda.
Christian religious space from the period of King D. Dinis (early 14th century) with the invocation of the Holy Spirit, represented in the frescoes of the walls by the motive of doves carrying an olive branch in their beak. Both the ceramic floor and the wooden ceiling are among the oldest examples of Mudejar work in Portugal.
The chapel, of rectangular plan and unique nave , has walls covered with ornamental painting and wooden ceiling. In the kitchen, otogonal starts are visible from the monumental chimneys. Some compartments of the so-called Manueline wing boast limestone openings and fireplaces, characterized by embossed decoration.
Founded by D. Dinis in the early 14th century, the Chapel features a carved wood ceiling with alfarge works. In its decoration geometric elements intersect forming radial or starry compositions. This 15th century Mudejar carpentry work is one of the oldest in Portugal.
Sintra National Palace
The Palace of Sintra (Portuguese: Palácio Nacional de Sintra), also called Town Palace (Palácio da Vila) is located in the town of Sintra, in the Lisbon District of Portugal. It is a present-day historic house museum.
It is the best-preserved medieval royal residence in Portugal, being inhabited more or less continuously from at least the early 15th century to the late 19th century. It is a significant tourist attraction, and is part of the cultural landscape of Sintra, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site.
As the sole surviving mediaeval royal palace in Portugal, and the residence of the Portuguese royal family until 1910, the National Palace of Sintra can trace its origin back to the beginning of the Muslim period in the Iberian Peninsula.
It stands as a living testimony to some of the most successful moments in Portuguese history when the country opened up to new worlds, and its architecture and heritage became marked by the harmonious combination of Gothic, Mudejar and Renaissance elements.
The palace’s outward profile has become famous for its two monumental cone-shaped chimneys, while its interior walls are lined with Europe’s largest set of Mudejar tiles still in place today. It also contains one of the country’s most important heraldic rooms and has some significant collections of decorative arts.