The Palacio Fronteira in Lisbon, Portugal — a Rousing Hymn to the Color Blue
|Visitors from all over the world travel to see the vibrant blue and white azulejos at the Palacio Fronteira in Lisbon, Portugal. All photography and artwork in this post are the property of Penny Ewles-Bergeron. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Once again, it is my privilege and honor to welcome my guest Penny Ewles-Bergeron, an English artist and writer who briefly called Lisbon home. In her own words, she "requires art, music, dance, history, politics & good food to thrive." You can find her on Twitter @ABroadBrush tweeting her sophisticated wit and charm intermingled with points of view on art and life, and my favorite—humor! Penny has contributed to EuroTravelogue in the past with a tour through Szentendre, Hungary, but today, she escorts us through the wonder of Palacio Fronteira in Lisbon, Portugal, for a grand tour of the palace as well as its vibrant blue and white tiles or azulejos that have become synonymous with Portugal itself. As you will see, her painting of the palace is as equally brilliant as the photography throughout.
Not far from Lisbon is a smart red 17th-century fine house, standing resplendent in crisp formal gardens. But the colour red is not what the Palacio Fronteira is all about; this palace is a rousing hymn to the colour blue. Here visitors from all over the world come to see the ravishing blue and white tiles — azulejos — that are part of Portugal's ceramic tradition.
The palace began in 1670 as a hunting lodge for Dom João de Mascarenhas, the first Marquis of Fronteira. He acquired his title from King Afonso VI for loyalty to the House of Bragança in the Portuguese War of Restoration. Like so many properties around Lisbon, the palace suffered damage in the catastrophic earthquake of 1755 and was rebuilt. Today it is still lived in by the 13th Marquis of Torre, the 12th Marquis of Fronteira, the 10th Marquis of Alorna and the Count of Assumar and Coculim. In case you are thinking this begins to sound a little overcrowded, these titles all belong to the same person, Dom Fernando Mascarenhas. Dom Fernando has created a foundation to preserve his family's heritage and to develop cultural activities focused upon the palace. Talks, concerts and exhibitions are part of that process.
There are many richly decorated rooms inside the grand house, and a great deal of baroque statuary, but the most striking space is that of the Sala das Batalhas, a large room embellished with 17th-century tiles depicting various battles against Spain in the war of restoration (1640-68). Check out Fronteir-Alorna for an incredible 360° view of the room.
|Chapel Terrace is filled with niches of mythological figures framed by tile-work panels of exuberant design.
One of the most exciting moments of the tour comes when you step out of the house onto the leafy Chapel Terrace. Our group exclaimed in wonder and delight. Here niches hold statues of mythological figures while the arts are represented in tile-work panels of exuberant design. There isn't an inch of wall that doesn't have its share of zingy blue and white, here and there further enlivened with the yellow ochre tone of manganese.
|There isn't an inch of wall that doesn't have its share of zingy blue and white, here and there further enlivened with the yellow ochre tone of manganese.
Along the lower edges of the walls, and sometimes almost out of sight, are amusing panels of anthromorphised cats and monkeys.
This one shows a music lesson in progress...
|Along the lower edges of the walls, and sometimes almost out of sight, are amusing panels of anthromorphised cats and monkeys. Here, a music lesson is underway.
From the terrace, the view down to the tiny chapel is particularly charming.
|From the terrace, the view down to the tiny chapel is particularly charming.
The chapel's 1584 inscription tells us it is the oldest part of the Fronteira complex, though the thick covering of broken glass and porcelain, shells and pebbles dates from the inauguration of the house in the 1670s. A family story relates tells how the future king Dom Pedro II used the dishes on his visit and how the service was smashed and used to decorate the chapel, thus preventing lesser mortals from ever having the privilege of eating from the same plates.
|After the future king Dom Pedro II used the dishes on his visit, the service was smashed and used to decorate the chapel.
It is very pretty but the story makes a ceramic-lover weep!
And so into the gardens, where a raised walkway, punctuated by busts of Portuguese kings, provides a charming view over a pool into the main gardens.
|A raised walkway provides this stunning view of the pool and gardens at Palacio Fronteira.
|A pair of Black Swans greeted Penny on her stroll through the Palacio's gardens.
|Another perspective of the pool and gardens at the Palacio.
Around the lower gardens, panels of azulejos depict country tasks undertaken in each month of the year.
|Panels of azulejos depict country life during each month of the year.
|A richness of texture and a full immersion in the ceramic arts of Portugal await at the Palacio Fronteira.
The experience of Palacio Fronteira is one of intense colour-hits, a richness of texture and a full immersion in the ceramic arts of Portugal. For lovers of the colour blue and I confess I'm one, it's the perfect place to go when you visit Lisbon.
Finally, how could one fail to be inspired by the Palacio Fronteira?
|Inspired by the Palacio Fronteira, Penny painted this exquisite scene of the gardens at Palacio Fronteira. Personally, I can't over the vibrant blue of the palace or the masterpiece of art—stunning!