The majestic National Palace and Monastery of Mafra looms over the pleasant countryside town of Mafra and represents an outstanding example of grandiose excess. Work began in 1717 on what was originally supposed to be a simple monastery and basilica, commissioned by Dom João V to honor the birth of the king’s first child.
But as wealth from Brazil swelled the royal coffers, the project took on a new dimension and eventually, a huge Baroque palace was built, lavishly decorated with exotic furnishings and numerous works of art. A tour allows access to the monastery, palace, church, and basilica. The undoubted highlight is the sumptuous marble floored library where more than 40,000 rare and precious books line Rococo-style wooden bookcases – one of the most important collections of manuscripts and literature in Europe.
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