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April 21, 2024

Fronteira Palace: Spectacular Gardens & Azulejo Tiles in Lisbon, Portugal

On the outskirts of Lisbon, Portugal, Fronteira Palace (Palacio Fronteira) is a must-see for its spectacular formal gardens and the historic azulejo tiles that adorn its buildings.

Built as a hunting lodge and summer retreat in the 17th century by Dom Joao de Mascarenhas, the first Marquess of Fronteira, the main structure was transformed into an opulent palace in the 18th century. After the 1755 earthquake that devastated much of Lisbon, the Mascarenhas family moved permanently to Fronteira Palace and continues to live there today.

Fronteira Palace has one of most extensive collections of azulejo tiles in situ (second only to the National Tile Museum in Lisbon). The tin-glazed ceramic tiles feature prominently in the palace gardens and interiors.

The 13-acre Fronteira Palace complex comprises a vivid red main building bordered by stunning cobalt blue walls, plus four gardens dotted with statues and fountains in a rich array of colors, textures and thematic elements.

Scenic pathways and architectural structures such as vibrant pavilions…

…ornate staircases and elevated terraces offer different viewpoints of the grounds.

The Lake of Knights is particularly striking, with its magnificent blue-and-white tilework depicting members of the Mascarenhas family on horseback.

Azulejo-adorned staircases lead visitors to the King’s Gallery, which features busts of the kings of Portugal set in niches along a gallery that connects two tile-covered pavilions.

Dona Maria I, a queen who ruled in her own right over Portugal and Brazil, is also represented.

Another highlight of a private tour of the Fronteira Palace gardens is visiting Casa do Fresco, a garden grotto with ornate rocaille (stone and shell decorations) on its walls.

Known as embrechado in Portuguese, this 18th-century decorative style uses inlaid stones, shells, broken glass and ceramics to create elaborate, three-dimensional organic designs that contrast with the order and symmetry of formal Renaissance gardens.

The Chinese blue-and-white porcelain pieces encrusted in the walls of the Casa do Fresco are from the palace’s inaugural dinner, which was attended by the future King John IV during his tenure as prince regent. Following the celebration, the marquess had the porcelain ceremonially smashed and incorporated into the decoration.

Other highlights of a private tour of the gardens of Fronteira Palace include formal parterres, rose bushes, fountains, statues and walls decorated with azulejos.

The Venus Garden is a tranquil area with a fountain featuring the Roman goddess.

Blue-and-white azulejo tiles and polychrome panels adorn the gardens with scenes from Portuguese history, classical mythology and daily life.

Fronteira Palace Lisbon

Upon request, Artisans of Leisure can arrange for our travelers to tour the magnificent Baroque interiors of Fronteira Palace. Still occupied by the Mascarenhas family, the rooms have a wonderful lived-in quality that complements the fine and decorative arts collection.

Highlights of the interiors of Fronteira Palace include the library, which has thousands of antique books; the dining room, with its elaborate stuccowork and portraits; and the azulejo tiles decorating many of the rooms.

In the famous Hall of Battles, blue-and-white tile panels depict battles from the Portuguese Restoration War (1640–1668). The first marquess of Fronteira Palace was awarded his aristocratic title for his military service during that war, making the Hall of Battles a fascinating intersection of Portuguese history, family history and decorative arts.

Contact Artisans of Leisure to begin planning a private Portugal tour that features the stunning gardens and interiors of Fronteira Palace and other cultural highlights of Lisbon.

highlights of Lisbon

Thank you to the Fundação das Casas de Fronteira e Alorna for their generous contribution of images of the palace interior.

Destinations:  Europe, Portugal

Tags:  azulejo, azulejos, Baroque architecture, cobalt, decorative art tours, decorative arts, Fronteira Palace, Fronteira Palace Garden, garden design, garden tours, gardens, insider Portugal, interiors, Lisbon, Lisbon day tours, Lisbon gardens, Lisbon interiors, Lisbon mueums, Lisbon palaces, Lisbon tiles, Lisbon tours, luxury Portugal tours, palace tours, Portugal, Portugal garden tours, Portuguese, Portuguese ceramics, Portuguese design, Portuguese gardens, Portuguese tiles