Cascais Citadel Palace: a historic place that you can’t miss in Cascais!
Did you know that one of the official residences of the Government of Portugal is in Cascais? I had visited the city more than once and I did not know that. And worse, I had already been in front of the entrance of the Cascais Citadel Palace and had no idea that was possible to visit the building.
A few days ago I returned to the city and decided to go there to take a peek. Three things caught my attention during the visit: the building’s internal architecture, the beauty of the decoration and, of course, the breathtaking view of Cascais Bay.
If you enjoy these three things, include a visit to the Cascais Citadel Palace when you go to Cascais. You will surely like it!
A short history of the Cascais Citadel Palace
For many years, the building that currently serves as the summer residence of the President of the Republic was just a mere room integrated with the military complex built between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries to defend the coast of Lisbon and the entrance of the Tagus River.
However, in 1870, the building gained a new and different function, far beyond the military one. King Dom Luis I and Queen D. Maria Pia chose the place as the holiday residence of the Royal family.
During the summer, the Portuguese Royal House and the members of the court settled in Sintra, whose climate was milder, and from the end of the season until mid-autumn, they moved temporarily to Cascais.
This choice was extremely important for the development of the town of Cascais, transforming it into one of the most refined and cosmopolitan tourist resorts in Portugal.
This happened because the presence of the Royal Family also brought to the small village of fishermen, several figures of the intellectual and literary environment of that time. An example is the group called Vencidos da Vida, which included, among others, Eça de Queiroz and Ramalho Ortigão.
And it was thanks to the Royal Family as well, that the popular saying about the city that said “A Cascais once and never again” changed to “A Cascais once and many more.”
It is interesting to mention that, according to historians, although it also served as the residence of some presidents – after the proclamation of the Republic in 1910 – the official designation of the building is “Royal Palace” because the transformation occurred in the place was due to the love of the Kings Dom Luís and Dom Carlos to the sea and to the Bay of Cascais.
After almost 50 years in complete abandon, the building has been restored and today is certainly one of the must-see attractions of the city. Without much architectural importance, the Royal Palace of the Citadel has an undeniable history importance for the village of Cascais.
The visit to the Cascais Citadel Palace
The Cascais Citadel Palace is located right in the center of the village, next to the Fort of Nossa Senhora da Luz and the Cascais Marina.
During the tour you can visit the chapel of Our Lady of Victory, the old room of King D. Luís, the rooms of the Palace and the Arab room – which served as office for President Craveiro Lopes – and the Museum.
Chapel of Our Lady of Victory
It is believed that the Chapel of Our Lady of Victory was built in the second half of the 18th century. It is a small church and full of details. At the altar, in addition to many golden details, what strikes the attention is the coating of the tiles, both on the side walls and the ceiling. The Church is linked to the cult of St. Anthony.
Cascais Citadel Palace
Finally we arrived at the Royal Palace of the Citadel itself. An interesting detail of the visit is that there isn’t a guide that accompanies you all the time, filling you with information you do not always want to hear. You’ll have that just if you choose the guided tour.
But, better than that, there is one person on each of the three (3) floors of the building available to answer your questions. That is, at the same time that you have the freedom to look at each piece of the palace and take as long as you like, you can at any time call the floor attendant and ask what you want.
I was fortunate to be welcomed by Carmen, a very friendly Portuguese woman who accompanied me on the first two floors, answered all my questions and told me a bit about the history of the Palace.
There is not much to see downstairs. Only the entrance hall and a room where it is possible to pick up some dishes that were used by the Royal Family.
On the first floor there are several rooms (visit, recreation, dinner) and a huge balcony facing the Bay of Cascais. It is said that it was the Arab Room, on the first floor of the Palace, that King Dom Luis I chose to await death. And it was there, with a stunning view of the Bay of Cascais that he, looking at the sea, died.
On the second floor are the bedrooms and a more intimate living room.
One of the things that caught my eyes and enchanted me in the Royal Palace of the Cascais Citadel was the super detailed and colorful work done with plaster in practically every ceiling of the building. Simply gorgeous!
Besides the Chapel and the Palace building itself, you can also visit the Museum whose exhibitions vary during the year. On the day I visited the Palace there was an exhibition by Cruzeiro Seixas, a famous portuguese painter and poet.
How to go to Cascais Citadel Palace?
The Cascais Citadel Palace is situated at Avenida Dom Carlos I, 2750-642, in Cascais. It’s very easy to get there.
By car: From Lisbon are approximately 36Km. Go along the marginal avenue (N6). When you arrive in Cascais, head towards Ribeira Beach (Cascais Bay) and then continue along Dom Carlos Avenue. There is a car park near the entrance of the Cascais Citadel Palace. Just follow the signs.
By public transport: the simplest form is the train that departs from the Cais do Sodré station in Lisbon. The journey takes approximately 40 minutes. When disembarking at the station of Cascais walk at about 900 meters towards the Bay of Cascais and the Marina of Cascais.
Where to stay in Cascais?
Cascais is a relatively small city but there is a good offer of lodging. If you choose to spend a few days in the city, I suggest the following hotels:
- Pestana Cidadela Cascais – Pousada & Art District;
- The Albatroz Hotel;
- Villa Cascais Guest House;
- Hotel Baia;
- Cascais Front Sea Bay View;
- Hotel Cidadela;
- Pergola Guest House;
There are two other hotels that I recommend because I have already stayed there and although they are not located by the sea, they are very close and, depending on the time, very reasonably priced.
Important informations about the Palace
- The entrance of the Palace is on Av. Dom Carlos;
– Summer (01 April to 31 October) – Tuesday to Sunday, from 2 pm to 8 pm;
– Winter (1 November to 31 March) – Wednesday to Sunday, from 10am to 6pm (closes from 1pm to 2pm);
- Tickets: The ticket costs € 4 for the general public. But there are discounts for families, seniors, teachers, etc;
- Children up to and including 14 years old do not pay admission.
This information may change. Consult the official website of the Presidency Museum before heading to the venue.
Websites and Articles about Cascais and the Palace on the Web