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Discover the objects on display in the National Palace of Sintra

Anteroom of the Council
Chamber (known as the Arab Room)

Anteroom of the Council Chamber (known as the Arab Room)

 Waiting room outside the judges’ or councillors’ meeting chamber.
It can be accessed directly from the Central Patio via a spiral staircase, and it
communicates with the royal chambers via the central door. It also provides
access to the chapel, through the north door.
The tiles and fountain date from the reign of King Manuel I (1495-1521),
but during the 19th century were believed to be from the Muslim period.


Discover the objects on display in this room.

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Spiral Staircase

Through a spiral staircase, this room was connected to the Central Patio. At the top of the stairs, a small wrought iron dragon head with a half-opened mouth seems to guard the passage.

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A white marble basin stands in the middle of the room in a square of ceramic pieces in various colours. This fountain, which dates from the early 16th century, is surmounted by a group of sculptures from a later period featuring water-spouting mythological sea creatures.


From the late Middle Ages and throughout the early modern period (13th-18th centuries), a ‘Palace’ was a place where the king gave protection to his vassals, providing them with shelter, food and justice. This triple function required three distinct spaces: reception rooms; kitchens to make food; and rooms for the judging of crimes or conflicts. Only the proper exercise of justice could guarantee the kingdom’s wellbeing.

This palace was prepared for the highest courts in the kingdom to operate here. The most important of these courts was the ‘Casa da Suplicação’, or House of Supplication, which was itinerant until the 16th century. Its judges tried crimes committed all over the kingdom, as well as any conflicts that arose in the king’s court or within a 25 km radius of it.

Because they frequently accompanied the king, these judges were also influential as advisers. Their importance continued to grow and, between 1562 and 1569, a Council of State was formally created as an autonomous institution that sought to ensure good governance of the kingdom.

It is thought that the two rooms in this unit were initially used as the House of Supplication and later adapted to host meetings of the Council of State.