The Palace of the Dukes of Cadaval

If you are ever lucky enough to visit the UNESCO Heritage city of Evora, in the Alentjo region of Portugal, don’t miss visiting Cadaval Palace.  Sited opposite the remains of the Roman Temple and near to the Cathedral you might feel you have had a cultural overload, but the charm of the palace is its homeliness and beauty.

The present house dates from 1648 when it was built on the site of the original medieval castle, it is now a large stately manor house adjoining the Loios Church.  Its style is a blend of Gothic, Moorish and Manueline architecture.   The latter can be seen in the Belem Tower at Lisbon.   Above the house is the Tower of the Five Shields named after the coat of Arms of the Cadaval family which shows 5 shields on the background of a St Andrews Cross.  The Cadaval Duchy dates from the support given by the family to Portugal’s independence from Spain in the 17th century.  They are a branch of the Braganza family.

The palace was the temporary residence of several Portuguese monarchs of the Alfonsine dynasty. The third Duke of Braganza was imprisoned here before his beheading in 1483 for plotting against King John II.  On a more cheerful note, Vasco da Gama was commissioned at the palace to command a fleet to discover the sea route to India round southern Africa.  The present representative of the family, Diana Alvares Pereira de Melo, was married in Evora cathedral to Charles Philippe, Prince of Orleans, in 2008 and they held their Reception in the Palace.

Inside the Palace, visitors can see a gallery of ancient documents and the bronze tomb of Rui de Sousa who signed the treaty of 1494 dividing the world into Spanish and Portuguese spheres of influence.  There are many beautiful old paintings but there are also exhibitions of contemporary art.  While we visited I particularly liked the “Passion of Poissons” gallery.

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