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Restoration of the rooms of Manuel II in the National Palace of Pena

10 March , 2016
Salas D. Manuel II

©PSML Wilson Pereira

February saw the launch of the integral restoration process for the Rooms of Manuel II in the National Palace of Pena. The degradation of the rooms, located on the third floor of the National Palace of Pena Tower, meant they were excluded from the Palace visitor route in recent years. The works come at a cost of around €40,000 and a forecast duration of four months at the end of which the five areas constituting the Rooms of Manuel II will be returned to the visitor route.

One of the intervention objectives involves replacing the strong colours (such as blue, green and red) applied to the walls in these rooms in an earlier intervention that opened up distance with the original decorative style based on clear tones as verified by a historical black and white photograph.

The project also includes the integration of the electricity infrastructures into the flooring, removing dissonant and intrusive features from the plastered surfaces, the general stabilisation of the ceilings and the respective support structures and the removal of inappropriate materials from some of the rooms and replacing them with traditional alternatives.

In parallel to the ongoing work, there is also study of the different usages of the Palace by Ferdinand II and later by Carlos and Amélia through soundings taken to cover those sites where historical maps reveal the existence of niches set back into the wall that were closed off at a later date even while remaining accessible. The purpose of the soundings is to find the material remains of these openings and thereby also enabling the gathering of information on the original construction techniques.

The museographic plan of the rooms will be reviewed and in the meanwhile hosting a temporary exhibition commemorating the bicentenary of the birth of Ferdinand II taking place this year.

Simultaneous to the restoration of the Rooms of Manuel II, there is also work ongoing in the Telegraph Room, with its adaptation into a conference room, located on the top floor of the Tower. Additionally, the ceiling of the Smoking Room (the former Indian Drawing Room) is receiving attention within the framework of the integral but phased recovery of this room on the museologic route. The ceiling has been displaying structural weaknesses that made this a priority intervention. In parallel, the intervention also extends to the room’s furniture.


Historical contextualisation

The Rooms of Manuel II took on the name of the last king of Portugal as they had been his chambers in the National Palace of Pena from his childhood through to the declaration of the republic. Ferdinand II acquired these terrains and the building, a former convent, in 1838. The Tower began construction in 1843 subsequent to the expansion of the Palace to highlight the southern approach to the building. The initial Ferdinand II plan would be to install here on the main floor chambers for himself and for the Queen of Portugal. Planned for this floor was a “Gentlemen’s Room”, with double the ceiling height but which ended up not being built. The unexpected death of the queen would have prevented such plans with the king ending up remaining in his chambers in the former convent section of the Palace, where he had taken up residence at the beginning of construction. Whilst the upper floors were destined for guest rooms, on the ground floor a large banqueting room was built, which from the outset was called the “Stag Room”. The Tower served, in the second phase of occupation by the royal family, with Carlos and Amélia in residence, for housing Princes Manuel II and Luís Filipe and their retinue of nannies and tutors.

Manuel II used the antechamber, immediately after the corridor leading from the Great Hall, as a study room and office whilst the second room, the largest and most representative – and the only one that retained the initial oval shape of these chambers – was his bedroom. These installations also included a room for the tutor and a clothes room.

The ongoing work does not imply any interruptions to the visitor route in accordance with the regular “Open for Works” Parques de Sintra policy that enables visitors to accompany the progress of restoration work.

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