18th-century pipe organ to return to the Royal Chapel of the National Palace of Queluz after 100 years
26 Jun 2023
The Royal Chapel of the National Palace of Queluz is undergoing a comprehensive conservation and restoration intervention. One of the main objectives of this project is the complete functional reintegration of the historic 18th-century pipe organ, which will return to its original location after more than 100 years.
In a project that encompasses multiple artistic and decorative techniques, all the decorative coverings such as polychrome wood, paintings on canvas, tile panels and gilded woodwork are being rigorously conserved and restored. The project also includes restoration of contiguous spaces such as the Sacristy, the adjacent rooms, the private areas of the upper floor and the connecting areas between the two floors with the aim of improving visitor experience of the Palace.
The structural interventions aim to provide the Royal Chapel with the necessary conditions for the reintegration of the historic pipe organ originally built in the 18th century by Machado e Cerveira, the restoration of which is currently underway. The installation of the instrument in the centre of the High Choir requires the creation of a space to house all the instrument's mechanics, requiring the renovation of the event support room located on the lower floor of the Chapel.
The organ is thought to have originally belonged to the Bemposta Palace and to have been brought to Queluz in 1778. Installed in the Chapel's Upper Choir, it remained there until 1916, when it was completely dismantled. Only its front was left on the right side of the Upper Choir, but even that part of the instrument was removed in 1988, leaving the Chapel without any trace of the organ until today.
Once the conservation and restoration work is complete, the 18th-century organ of the Royal Chapel of the National Palace of Queluz, which has a total of 2428 pipes, will return to its original location to be heard again in all its splendour. Parques de Sintra, in fulfilment of its mission, will thus return the enjoyment of this historic instrument to the community.
The works are expected to continue until the end of March 2024, with limited visits inside the Chapel until that time. Visitors, however, will be able to follow the course of the intervention through the glass viewing panels installed near the entrance to the space.
The Royal Chapel is one of the oldest rooms in the National Palace of Queluz. As a space dedicated to contemplation and religious celebrations typical of its time, it was the venue for small royal ceremonies and private masses of the Royal Family. It was designed by the architect Mateus Vicente de Oliveira in the 18th century and embodies the typical features of its author: colours, light, the use of the dome in such a small space (an element always present in the religious buildings he designed) and forms.
The gilded wood decoration is the work of the carver Silvestre Faria Lobo; the altarpiece by André Gonçalves in the chancel depicts Our Lady of the Conception, the patron saint of Queluz; and the panels of the side altars, alluding to Saint Francis of Paola and the imprisonment of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, were painted by Pedro Alexandrino.
The total conservation and restoration project for the Royal Chapel and its historic pipe organ represents an investment of around €1 million.