This post is by Katie (Boise State)
On November 5, 2013 the Art and Architecture class took place at the Palace of Fronteira. The Palace of Fronteira was built during the Post-Restoration period. After the War of Restoration, when Portugal’s independence had been restored, those who fought beside the King were bestowed with royal recognition and favors consisting of titles and properties. This brought about competition for a leading place on the political chessboard of which the Palace of Fronteira is part. The first Marquis de Fronteira, D. João de Mascarenhas, commissioned the building circa 1670. The fifth Marquis de Fronteira, D. José Luís Mascarenhas would oversee construction in expansion and improvement of the property in the 18th century.
On our beautiful tour of the Palace, we were able to see rooms inside the house, including the main room, library and dining room, the family chapel, garden, the “Casa de Fresco” and the Gallery of Kings.
The main room consists of elaborate tile decorations depicting the most important battles of war as well as highly significant persons. The ceiling of this room consists of sculpture in which Venus, the goddess of peace, stands on one side and Minerva, goddess of war, stands on the other accompanied by slaves representing the Spanish. Interestingly enough, mistakes in spelling and grammar appear on the tiles due to the fact that the artisans were not educated at that time.
Outside of the main room on the first floor there are various statues along a large tiled deck called the Gallery of the Arts. The first two regard the story of Marsias and Apollo. This story was of most prominence to us visitors in which it relates to Greek mythology and is very much unheard of. The statues depict the story in which Marsias regarded himself as the best musician and Apollo, the God of music, very much disagreed and agreed to hold a competition. If Apollo won he would take Marsias’ skin…and thus, he did.
The library, from the 17th century contains important documents (such as treatises with France) still belonging to the family. The dinning room is very much still in use by the family and used to hold conferences and elaborate dinners. The tiles in this room are imported from Holland.
The family Chapel was first built on the property in the 16th century and then redecorated in the 18th century. The style seen today is a baroque style known as rococo in which consists of ornate ornamentation and colorings. It is said that St. Francis prayed here before his journey to India on a mission to spread Christianity in the 16th century.
The garden is designed with box wood and contains geometric characteristics known as a geometric parterre also surrounded by lead sculptures on stone pillars. The main axes contain 5 fountains. In the back of the garden stands the Gallery of Kings, above the water mirror.
This post is by Katarzyna (Poland)
During our architecture class we visited The Palace of the Marquesses of Fronteira which is located outside the center, but not too far from the Jardim Zoologico’s station.
Actually the Palace is a former hunting pavilion, built in circa 1670 to D. João de Mascarenhas, 1st Marquis of Fronteira. It was a period knowing from a great construction.
The Palace is located in very quiet district, which makes it much more mysterious.
Next to the entrance, we found out that part of the "new" aisle is still habited by the family. I expected that the palace would be larger, but lots of colors and beautiful decorated with "azulejos" still made an impression on me.
The major room depicts lots of war scenery and panels representing scenes of the Portuguese Restoration War, one of them shows D. João de Mascarenhas fighting a Spanish general. From the library we can see great view on the garden which is very "geometrical laid out". Despite the fact that is still property of the Marquis of Fronteira, some of the rooms like the Library and Dining room are open to public visit where we'll know everything about the family and history of the Palace. The dining room is decorated with portraits representing some members of the Portuguese nobility.
One of the most exciting moment of our tour came when we step out of the house to the terrace. Everything makes that look really beautiful, surrounded by blue. I was truly bewitched by this vibrant blue, which except white tiles –“azulejos”- is big part of this Palace.
From the terrace we can see the particularly charming view of the chapel .We went to the oldest part of the palace: the chapel, dating from the end of the 16th century. The façade of the Fresh House is built with stones, shells, porcelains and broken glass.
There are family relates on how the future kind Dom Pedro II used the dishes and how the service was smashed and used to decorate the Fresh House.
We also cannot miss the big water tank with the fantastic wall called the "King's Promenade". Each niche of the wall shows a former king of Portugal .I have to admit that Palacio Fronteira is a beautiful place, one of the most colorful I've seen in Lisbon. It is an experience of colors, especially blue one, great panels of tiles and richness of architecture which everyone should see.
This post is by Sarah, Arizona State
One of the things I love most about living in Lisbon is the opportunity we have to actually see the history that we’ve learned about in class. Some of the buildings and sites we visit are so old that it’s difficult for me, being from such a young country, to comprehend the countless events and stories that have taken place there. Our visit to the Palace of Fronteira, built circa 1670, was no different. However, the palace has one unique and defining detail - it is still currently used as a residence for the 12th Fronteira Marquês, D. Fernando Mascarenhas! I couldn’t believe that we were actually entering into someone’s home, and such a beautiful one at that!
Our tour of the palace began in the main room on the first floor. Here is where guests are traditionally entertained, and main activities take place - in America, we call this a “great room”. Intricately decorated tiles depicting important battles of the Restoration War and a line of 18th century Mascarenhas family portraits surround the room, adding to the stately atmosphere. On the ceiling, the Roman goddesses Venus and Minerva silently quarrel from their magnificent plaster.
From the main room, we continued into the library, which is still fully functioning and affords an excellent view of the gardens. The library still to this day contains original 17th century books and collections of treaties: how amazing!
Next, we reached the grandiose dining room, decorated with portraits of members of Portuguese nobility and numerous gold accents. Here, the rich blue and white tile work - known as azulejo - is also a main focal point of the room. The dining room leads out to a beautiful terrace, also known as the gallery of art. From here, the Marquês can enjoy looking out into his well-manicured gardens and contemplate the great arts. For extra inspiration, each facet of liberal arts is represented here, with Poetry being the first and foremost. It is interesting to note that, even today, there are poetry meetings in the palace organized by the Marquês, so the significance certainly lives on. Equally spaced statues of each planet - represented by their Greek mythology counterpart - adorn the rest of the walkway.
We were led by this path into a small chapel, which happens to be the oldest part of the entire palace. It was built in the 16th century before the other parts of the estate were completed. The graceful Rococo style of the chapel made it a peaceful place to pause.
We continued into the casa de fresca, or “fresh house” which was adorned with small pieces of broken ceramic and shells - or embrechado. This was probably my favorite area of the palace, because it is beautiful as well as functional. Before air conditioning, the palace residents would use this area as a place of refuge because it remained significantly cooler than the ambient temperature. It is certainly a feat of architectural genius.
Finally, we arrived at the palace gardens, which are representative of the geometric parterre layout - following a symmetric pattern. Black swans swam peacefully through the water mirror while our class discussed the numerous works of art. The Gallery of the Kings, situated high above the water mirror, contains symbolism of many portuguese icons. Busts of King D. João IV and his sons, Pedro and Alfonso, begin the archway into the gallery, followed by King D. Manuel and others. The tile work beneath the statues shows images of various Portuguese knights, reinforcing the idea that knights should always support the nobility. We ended our tour by walking through the picturesque hedges and gravel paths, surrounded by even more azulejo depicting typical activities for each month of the year.
I believe that applying our in-class knowledge to outside field trips such as this truly allows us as students to make the valuable connection between history and the issues of today. Besides, it’s not every day that I get to walk around a palace older than my entire country! By combining my classes with something I would already be doing - traveling - I can truly gain more from my time here in Lisboa.