The Queluz National Palace is a Portuguese 18th-century palace located at Queluz, a freguesia of the modern-day Sintra Municipality, in the Lisbon District. One of the last great Rococo buildings to be designed in Europe, the palace was conceived as a summer retreat for Dom Pedro of Braganza, later to become husband and then king consort to his own niece, Queen Maria I. It served as a discreet place of incarceration for Queen Maria as her descent into madness continued in the years following Dom Pedro's death in 1786. Following the destruction by fire of the Ajuda Palace in 1794, Queluz Palace became the official residence of the Portuguese prince regent, John VI, and his family and remained so until the Royal Family fled to Brazil in 1807 following the French invasion of Portugal.
Work on the palace began in 1747 under the architect Mateus Vicente de Oliveira. Despite being far smaller, the palace is often referred to as the Portuguese Versailles. From 1826, the palace slowly fell from favour with the Portuguese sovereigns. In 1908, it became the property of the state. Following a serious fire in 1934, which gutted the interior, the palace was extensively restored, and today is open to the public as a major tourist attraction.
One wing of the palace, the Pavilion of Dona Maria, built between 1785 and 1792 by the architect Manuel Caetano de Sousa, is now a guest house allocated to foreign heads of state visiting Portugal.
The interior of the palace received no less attention to detail and design than the exterior. French artisans were employed to decorate the rooms, many of which are small, their walls and ceilings painted to depict allegorical and historical scenes. Polished red bricks were frequently used for the floors, for a rustic appearance as well as coolness in hot weather. The many tall pavilions which link the various lower wings of the palace allow for a series of long low rooms broken by higher and lighter rooms. A predominant feature of the interiors are the azulejos: polychrome glazed tiles, often in a chinoiserie style with tones of blues and yellows contrasting with muted reds. Materials for use on the interior included stone imported from Genoa and woods from Brazil, Denmark and Sweden, while coloured marbles were imported from Italy. Many of the palace's rooms were severely damaged by fire in 1934, and much was lost.