This Baroque masterpiece was commissioned by a of Portuguese king, Dom João V (1689-1750) in fulfilment of a promise. He had sworn to build a palace and convent in the town of Mafra if the queen gave him an heir. And she did.
Construction began in 1717 on the complex, which is also known as the Royal Building of Mafra, with more than 40,000 m2 and 1,200 rooms. It is made up of a Royal Palace, Basilica and Convent. The palace is known for its important collections of Italian sculpture, Italian and Portuguese paintings and its unique library, with more than 36,000 volumes. Listed as a National Monument in 1910, it was a finalist in the 2007 Seven Wonders of Portugal competition and has since 2019 been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
ROYAL HUNTING PARK
Created in the reign of Dom João V, after the construction of the palace and convent at Mafra, the Tapada or Hunting Park, which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, was designed as a place of leisure for the king and his court. It consists of more than 800 hectares of nature, with umbrella pines, cork oaks and other species of oak. The Hunting Park has some exceptional specimens that are listed as Trees of Public Interest: a huge horse chestnut, a Judas tree that is some 120 years old, and a cork oak aged some 300 years old. Birds predominate among the park's fauna, with Bonelli's eagle, Eurasian eagle-owl, goshawks and short-toed eagle, as well as many smaller species. Along the park's watercourses there are salamanders, frogs, turtles and various species of snakes. A number of mammals can also be found in the park, such as fallow deer, roe deer, wild boar, badgers and foxes. There are various paths that may be walked with or without a guide (from 4km tW 9km), mountain bike trails, a treetop obstacle course, tours by horse-drawn carriage and many other activities.
Created in 1718 as a Baroque garden, inspired by Versailles, at the order of Dom João V, this space extends over eight hectares of woodland and gardens, with nooks, shadows, waterfalls and a 4km aqueduct that brings water from the springs at the highest point of the Hunting Park through steep hills to reach the gardens. In the famous Horta dos Frades (Friars' Garden) botanical species were planted for use in the Palace and Convent of Mafra alongside the plants and roots picked in the Tapada (Hunting Park). From here came medicinal plants for the friars to make medicines in the Botica (Apothecary) of the Convent, including syrups, oils, tinctures and balms to be used to car for the sick in the three infirmaries. In the Herb Garden there are 36 beds planted with aromatic and medicinal herbs, including thyme, peppermint, lemon balm, lavender, marjoram, coriander, fennel, chives, rue, pennyroyal and many more.