Ajuda Botanical Garden

The Ajuda Botanical Garden and the Ajuda Palace

Ajuda is the name of the area, in front of the Tagus River and the Palace of Belém, on the hill north of the Jerónimos Monastery. It was here that two goat keepers erected a small chapel, in the XNUMXth century, to house an image of Our Lady who helped and protected those who used it. Therefore, it became known as Nossa Senhora da Ajuda. The Ajuda Palace, the Botanical Garden and the Real Barraca were built here.

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The History of Ajuda Palace

King D. João V, acquired in 1726, several farms in this area, known by the designations of Top Farm, Quinta do Meio and Quinta de Baixo.

The Summer Residence

The King wanted to build a summer residence, taking advantage of the Quinta de Baixo area, near the Tagus River and where today the Belém Cultural Center is built.

View over the Tagus, from the Ajuda Botanical Garden. Near the Real Barraca.
View over the Tagus, from the Ajuda Botanical Garden.

Use Quinta do Meio, where you have enlarged the Garden that bordered a Palace that already existed and which is today the Palace of Belém, of the Presidency of the Republic. D. João V improved these gardens with sculptures, some from Italy.

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At Quinta de Cima, with a stunning view, the Ajuda Palace and the Ajuda Botanical Garden were later built.

Real Barraca, the new Palace

In 1755 there is the biggest earthquake in Portugal and one of the most terrible in the world. D. José I lived in the Palace, on the riverside, the Paço da Ribeira.

Paço da Ribeira before 1755
Paço da Ribeira before 1755

The Paço da Ribeira was inhabited by the Kings for over 250 years. The Royal family inhabited the Paço das Alcáçovas, in the Castelo de S. Jorge and it was D. Manuel I who wanted to come and live near the center of shipbuilding and commerce, in the period of the Discoveries.

Destruction of Paço da Ribeira

No 1755 earthquake, the Royal Palace was completely destroyed and King José I no longer wanted to live in Lisbon. He went to live in a wooden Palace built in Quinta de Cima and known as Paço de Madeira or Real Barraca. D. José lived there until he died in 1777.

Table of the 1755 Earthquake
Table of the 1755 Earthquake

A few years later, in 1794, the Real Barraca was also destroyed by fire.

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After this fire and although there were other palaces where the royal family could stay, such as the Palácio das Necessidades, Palácio de Belém and the Palácio de Queluz, the royalty wanted to build the Ajuda Palace and close to the Real Barraca.

Construction of Ajuda Palace

Entrance to the Ajuda Palace. He replaced the Real Barraca.
Entrance to the Ajuda Palace

The work was delivered to two neoclassical architects, which was the style of the time. Francisco Xavier Fabri, Italian from Genoa and author of the first excavations of the Roman Theater in Lisbon, buried in the 1755 earthquake and discovered in 1798 and Jose da Costa e Silva, author of the Teatro de S. Carlos in Lisbon and who ended up going to Brazil following the French Invasions. He owes him the work of the Royal Theater of São João in Rio de Janeiro, today called Teatro João Caetano.

The work of the Palácio da Ajuda, started in 1795 but was interrupted by Napoleon's French Invasions in 1807. It had several attempts at completion, but until now it has never been completed.

Palace Banquet Room
Palace Banquet Room.

D. Luis I, who ascended the throne in 1861, takes up residence in the Palácio da Ajuda and works to make it habitable and adapt to new times, with lighting, comfort and intimate hygiene, among others.

Royal Family dining room, Ajuda Palace.
Royal Family dining room, Ajuda Palace.

Here was born the future King D. Carlos who, when crowned, decides to live in Belém and later in Necessidades. The Ajuda Palace was left for D. Maria Pia to live and later for official ceremonies.


Ajuda Botanical Garden

At Quinta de Cima, the Marquis of Pombal had the Ajuda Botanical Garden planted. The work was done between 1768 and 1794, in the area where the Real Barraca was.

The Botanical Garden of Ajuda is very pleasant, with the blue of the sea and the river to be seen among the foliage that undulates with the breeze that blows from the Tagus bar.

More than five thousand species have been planted, according to the Carlos Linnaeus. King D. José could thus teach his princes to be able to have a broader view of the various species existing in the world, including Angola, Brazil and Cape Verde, among others.

Domenico Vandelli, one of the creators of the Botanical Garden of the University of Coimbra, was called by Pombal to design and manage this garden.

The first French Invasion, in 1807, destroys most of this collection and prevents the progression of the Botanical Garden of Ajuda.

Peacock in Ajuda Botanical Garden
Peacock in the Botanical Garden of Ajuda.

Only with the return of D. João VI of Brazil, in 1821, after the Napoleonic invasions, the garden was regenerated again, counting on the appointment to its conservator, the botanist and professor at the University of Coimbra, Félix de Avelar Brotero.

It was able to be visited by the public after the republican revolution and is now under the auspices of the Higher Institute of Agronomy of the University of Lisbon.

Cristo Rei and the 25 de Abril Bridge seen from the Real Barraca area
Cristo Rei and the 25 de Abril Bridge, seen from the Real Barraca area

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