Mafra is a small town near Portugal’s capital. It is mainly famous thanks to the great palace complex that was built here in the first quarter of 18th Century by King Joao V. The town is certainly worth visiting for everyone who plans to spend their vacation at Lisbon. It would be a pity, if you skipped it.
The town is only about 50 kilometers away from Lisbon. So, the best way to get there is to arrive at Lisbon and then make a one-day trip to Mafra. This is particularly true for international tourists as they are more likely to explore Lisbon itself too. Also, there is a possibility of taking a guided tour to Mafra from Lisbon. Taking such a tour will surely make visiting Mafra much easier for most tourists.
The best idea would be to stay in one of many hotels in Lisbon. Another option is to choose a hotel in Obidos (also about 50 kilometers away from Mafra), Queluz (about 21 kilometers) or Sintra (about 16 kilometers). Especially Obidos might be very interesting for those tourists who like history as there is a hotel located within the walls of a castle there. Though, that hotel has just a small number of rooms which might make it hard to get a reservation at one.
Obviously, the Mafra Palace is the main attraction of this town. The building of monumental baroque palace started in 1717. It was originally intended to be a monastery-palace for only 13 Franciscan monks. However, this building project turned out to be a monastery capable of hosting 330 monks as that was the number of cells. There are 880 rooms at the palace and monks also had their own small hospital and pharmacy. Mafra Palace is also known for its huge library consisting of about 36,000 rare books.
The palace is also famous for its large collection of bells. Two towers of the palace contain over 100 bells.
Anyway, the palace ceased to serve as a monastery in 1834 when the king dissolved all religious order in Portugal. Instead, the palace served as a residence for royal family during their stays in Mafra.The palace was used for this purpose until 1910 when for the last time King Manuel II spent a night here during his escape to England.
If you go to Mafra, be sure that you do not skip the royal basilica and wildlife park located behind the palace.
To conclude, Mafra certainly is a place you should visit during your holiday in Portugal. It is easy to access from Lisbon and other nearby towns. Because of this, it is a great place to go to for tourists staying in Lisbon or nearby towns. You can take guided tours to Mafra Palace which is the main and most notable attraction at Mafra. However, do not forget to visit the royal basilica and wildlife park too.