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Parques de Sintra restores the interior finishes and roofs of the Cabaças Stairway and the Smoking Room of the National Palace of Pena

27 Jul 2022

In the National Palace of Pena, conservation and restoration work has already started on the interior finishes and roofs of the Cabaças Stairway and the Smoking Room, spaces topped by iconic domes whose golden tone stands out in the architecture of the monument. The intervention, which is estimated to last six months, includes maintenance and stabilisation work on the tile coverings of these domes, which are very exposed to adverse weather conditions, including careful cleaning of the glazed surfaces and the revision of joints to prevent leaks inside the spaces. Restoration of the gutters and other elements of the roofs is also planned, as well as of the wooden, iron, and glass frames.

Providing both material and immaterial testament to the construction technologies used during different phases of the construction, the finishes reveal polychrome architectural tastes and expressions. An example of this are the tiles lining the golden domes of the Palace of Pena, which were produced during the 19th century by the prestigious Fábrica Roseira, also responsible for the neo-moorish patterned façade tiles in the Dining Room and the Stag Room.

Inside the Palace, the conservation work will focus on the decorative painting on the Cabaças Stairway and on the stucco decoration and other elements in the Entrance Room, spaces that were much used when the Palace of Pena was inhabited by members of the Royal Family, who held grand receptions there. On these occasions, guests would enter through the Cabaças Doorway, located in the tunnel under the Triton on the left side, and up a spiral Cabaças Stairway, arriving to the social and entertainment rooms in the public area of the Palace: the Great Hall, then called the Billiard Room, and the Smoking Room, located on either side of the Entrance Room.

The Cabaças Stairway features a rich decoration inspired by plants, finished with frames and other decorative architectural trompe l'oeil elements in dry whitewash. At the top is the Entrance Room, completed in 1859 with the application of decorative painting, basket-pattern stucco, and limestone mouldings on the doors and niches. The chequered floor in cream and red coloured lioz stone is also part of the original decoration.

The decorative elements of these rooms were affected by the build-up of dirt and saltpetre, disintegrating mortar and stucco and occasional gaps, while various plaques were at risk of falling. Careful cleaning, filling of gaps, injections of mortar and a final chromatic reintegration are thus being planned to improve the reading of the spaces and to safeguard the authenticity and historical memory of the National Palace of Pena.

On the conclusion of the planned conservation and restoration works, the Entrance Room will receive a new museum, integrated in the project for the historical reconstitution of the domestic environments of the Palace of Pena.

Escada Cabacas PSML Jose Marques Silva Int