Lisbon’s Belem Palace Opens Itself Further to the Public

Palacio de Belem, Lisbon

Most tourists visiting Lisbon go on a daytrip to Sintra, the romantic town filled with spectacular palaces just a short train ride away. They visit the fairytale Pena Palace, see the dazzling National Palace, and become enchanted by the unusual architecture of Quinta da Regaleira and Monserrate Palace. Those who feel they just can’t get enough of royal extravagance also visit Lisbon’s Ajuda Palace, but rarely see Belem Palace nearby. It only opens itself to visitors once a week because it is still the official residence of the president of Portugal, but it does have an adjoining museum dedicated to all of the past leaders of the Portuguese Republic. At the palace itself visitors can see some beautiful gardens that have recently been cleaned up, and to celebrate that, there will be a special exhibition and events this month. From the 23rd to the 26th there will be opera at 9:30PM, Henry Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas,” produced by the São Carlos National Theater. On those days, the Presidency Museum will be free and remain open until midnight, allowing access to a temporary exhibition (open until 8PM) where visitors can see a beautiful, recently-restored structure commissioned by Queen Maria I in 1780 to hold the most exotic birds taken from the Portuguese Empire in Asia, Africa, and Brazil. There are no live birds at this exhibition but there will be some embalmed examples, and visitors can get to see a typical European baroque garden with sumptuous decoration and dramatic effects.
If you want to stay for the opera, it’s 20 euros for those over 25 years of age, and 13 euros for the younger ones. Tickets are sold at the museum’s ticket counter.

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