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Mafra is a historic Portuguese town, seat of the municipality, located approximately 45 minutes by car from Lisbon, and stands out for being a town full of history and tradition, with a great cultural offer reflected in countless festivities, namely the Concerto dos Seis Bodies in January. It is a place of gastronomy and wine, with a great emphasis on bread, fresh cheese, pear, strawberry, lemons, and some culinary specialties. Ericeira in Mafra is home to the only Surf Reserve in Europe. The Municipality of Mafra is a location where investment and entrepreneurship play increasingly important roles in the economic development of Portugal, through the construction of projects such as Ericeira Business Factory and Mafra Business Factory, with incubators for startups and cowork spaces. The quality of life and the fact that Mafra is the youngest municipality in Portugal are factors that lead to a great demand for residence.
The village landscape stands out for the magnificence of the Mafra palace, with the main yellow facade, for the Mafra cover in the convent landscape, for a ground floor house, for the many traditional shops and organization.
Attractions to visit in Mafra (TOP 10)
1. National Palace of Mafra: it is a Monastery of Mafra built due to a promise that Dom João V made to a Franciscan friar (if his wife had a child within one year). The convent would have been built in Mafra because since the 17th century it was the will of the Order of São Francisco, because there was a large amount of gold from Brazil and because his son was born, as desired. The construction of the Mafra palace began in 1717 with a project by the architect Johann Friedrich Ludwig, lasted for several years and had several stages of construction, namely the basilica in 1730, the Royal Tapada de Mafra in 1747, the Library between 1792 and 1807 , the reconstruction of the three walled walls in 1838 and the construction of the Chalet of Hunting of Dom Carlos I in 1900. In the Reign of Dom José the School of Sculpture of Mafra was directed, directed by Alexandro Giusti. This school trained some of the greatest Portuguese sculptors, namely Machado de Castro.
The Mafra Palace has 1200 rooms, 4700 doors and windows, 156 stairs, 92 bells, 6 historic organs, 58 large sculptures, the largest set of Baroque-style Italian statuary outside Italy built in Carrara marble, and a library in a 38 thousand meters space with 30 thousand volumes.
The National Palace of Mafra is structured as follows:
- Paço Real: built to be a country house with more than 600 rooms. The main points of interest are the Blessing Room, the Audience Room or the Throne Room, the Hunting Room, Diana’s Room, the Music Room, and the Royal Rooms;
- Convent: built to house 300 friars. The main highlights are the Jardim do Buxo, infirmary, and the kitchen;
- Basilica of Nossa Senhora and Santo António de Mafra: built in the Baroque style, it was consecrated on October 22, 1730, the 41st anniversary of Dom João V. After the consecration, 328 brothers arrived to occupy the convent. Basilica has an approximate space of 60 meters long and 40 meters wide. The highlights are the Zimbório, located at over 60 meters of altitude, the six pipe organs, and the two chimes with 92 bells, ordered from artisans in Antwerp and Liège, being considered the largest set of chimes in the world. The basilica includes eleven chapels
- Jardim do Cerco
The highlights of the Mafra National Palace are:
- Main Façade: the monumentality of the National Palace of Mafra is visible, with the façade 232 meters long, considered the longest corridor of all the royal palaces in Europe, the magnificence of the bell towers, the two turrets of four faces at the ends of the façade, a north turret dedicated to the King’s chambers and the south turret to the Queen’s chambers, the Ionic columns, the pediment with images of the Virgin with the Child of Saint Anthony by the sculptor Giuseppe Lironi;
- Galilé: the 14 sculptures of saints made in Italy, namely the figures of São Vicente, São Sebastião, São Domingos, São Francisco de Assis, Santo Inácio;
- Mafra National Palace Library: it is an eighteenth century Joan Library, built in the largest room in the palace, approximately 85 meters long and 10 meters wide. The 136 bookshelves with approximately 40 thousand books are spread over two floors, with books of all themes, in which more than half of the collection is about Religion. The library began to be built in the late 18th century with the creation of the catalog by Frei João de Santa Anna. The main highlights are the books at Estante 49 where we find the copies prohibited by the Inquisition and the Censorial Bureau of Portugal Books of the Hours, Bibles, the Diderot Encyclopedia (it is the first encyclopedia), ten volume Hebrew Bible, the Nuremberg Chronicle of 1453, the Mute Book (a book dedicated to Alchemy prohibited by the Inquisition), a first edition of “Os Lusíadas”, and two charters by Dom Manuel I. The library manages to keep the books intact and well preserved due to the presence of a colony of bats, which feed on the parasites that eat the paper …
2. Tapada Nacional de Mafra: opened in 1747 with an area of 1200 hectares. The cover was used essentially by the King to hunt, being one of the most sought after places by the Royal Family to hunt, along with Salvaterra de Magos.
3. Ericeira: a fishing village located approximately thirty minutes by car from Lisbon, highly sought after by surfers and seafood lovers. Ericeira village has unique features, such as the whitewashed white and blue houses, the beach where we can observe the traditional fishing boats, the fresh fish and seafood restaurants or the cliffs that form a kind of bay. Ericeira, together with the eight kms of sand, was classified as a World Surfing Reserve as of 2011. Surfing is the largest industry in Ericeira, promoting the opening of restaurants, holding festivals (Portuguese Surf Films Festival), surfing houses, surfboard stores, surf schools or surf product stores. The name Ericeira originates, according to the legend, in the name Oyriceia, that is, land of urchins due to the great presence of sea urchins. The village of Ericeira was founded in the 13th century with the attribution of a charter in 1229. Ericeira underwent a major development in the 17th century, when the Condal palace, the Town Hall and most of the fishermen’s houses were built.
Ericeira witnessed two important events, namely the flight of the Royal Family to Brazil in 1808 and the exile of the last King of Portugal, Dom Manuel II on October 5, 1910.
The main points of interest are:
- São Sebastião Chapel: it was built in the 16th century in Mannerist style, it was the headquarters of the Confraria dos Rapazes Solteiros in Ericeira. The main highlights are the Main Chapel of 1678 and the tiles;
- Igreja de São Pedro: it was built in the 15th century, having passed the Mother Church in 1530. The highlights are the Renaissance image of São Pedro, the stonework was built in Manueline style, the Main Retable in Rococo style and the four paintings with episodes of the miraculous fishing of São Pedro;
- Archive-Museum of Ericeira: it was inaugurated on June 1, 1937 with the aim of disseminating and preserving the history of Ericeira. The collection that we can visit includes paintings from the 16th century representing the Passion of Christ, paintings of Our Lady in Majesty, Visitation and Our Lady of Mercy;
- Records of Tiles in the Historic Center: these are very old tiles that represent protection of the population in relation to disasters related to the sea.
4. Jardim do Cerco: it was built in Baroque style during the Reign of Dom João V. The eight-hectare garden has as main highlights: the waterfalls, the Horta dos Frades, the Horto das Aromáticas with approximately 40 plants aromatics, statuary set, old trees and garden benches;
5. Lobo Ibérico Recovery Center: located in the parish of Gradil in an area of 17 hectares, the Lobo Ibérico Recovery Center was opened in 1987 with the objective of preventing the extinction of this species. This center is considered a sanctuary for the Iberian Wolf, having hosted 59 wolves since 1987;
6. Vale do Senhora do Arquiteto: is an isolated village little known in the municipality of Mafra, which deserves a visit due to the beauty of the landscape. The village’s history is deeply linked to the construction of the Chapel of Nossa Senhora do Arquiteto in the 17th century;
7. Forte de Milreu: built in Mannerist style during the Restoration War in the 17th century with the aim of protecting maritime access to Ericeira. It is in full operation until partial destruction at the time of the 1755 Earthquake. The fort was abandoned in the 19th and 20th century until it was rebuilt in the 1980s;
8. Ribeira d’Ilhas Beach: it is the most famous beach in Ericeira due to the regular holding of national, European and world surfing championships. Ribeira d’Ilhas is a beach with excellent waves for surfing, however it is advisable to be careful with currents that can be dangerous for swimmers with less experience;
9. Praia do Foz do Lizandro: it is an extensive sandy beach with small lagoons and is very popular with those who want to spend time with the family or practice surfing.
10. Forte de São Lourenço: also known as Forte de Santa Susana is located south of Praia de São Lourenço. The São Lourenço Fort was built during the Restoration War and, later, was part of the Second Defensive Line of Torres Vedras. The fort had two main functions, namely the military barracks and the Fiscal Guard.
Other attractions to visit in Mafra
- Praia da Pedra Branca: integrated in the Surf Nature Reserve, it is located in front of the Ericeira Camping Park;
- Praia de São Lourenço: rocky bottom beach not recommended for beginners surfers;
- Praia de São Julião: with a large beach, it is frequented by countless families during the summer, it stands out for the formation of lagoons in the sands and the cliffs. Some care is needed in relation to the cliffs due to the possibility of some stones falling;
- Praia dos Coxos: it is a beach known for its tubular waves, with a demand for experienced surfers from all over the world. Care is advised to go out to sea due to the large amount of rocks;
- Praia da Cave: also known as Sete Bafos, it is sought by more experienced surfers due to the degree of difficulty of the waves;
- Praia do Norte: also called Praia do Algodio or Praia da Ericeira. It is widely used by families, it is monitored during the bathing season;
- Praia do Sul: small beach and very sought after by those who like tranquility and some isolation;
- Foz do Lizandro Beach: long sandy beach with small lagoons is very popular with those who want to spend time with the family or to practice surfing.
Gastronomy of Mafra
Mafra is a coastal town with a fishing tradition in the village of Ericeira, and with agricultural traditions in the inner villages and towns. The most popular gastronomic products are:
- Mafra bread: Mafra bread is one of the specialties of the municipality.
- Mariscos da Ericeira: with a proximity to the sea, the Ericeira area offers several fresh seafood restaurants.
- Sea urchins
- Roasted sardines
- Caneja d’Infundice
- Coelho à Caçador
- Cozido à Portuguesa
- Mão de vaca com grão
- Pézinhos de coentrada
- Fresh Cheese
Curiosities about Mafra
- The work Memorial do Convento de José Saramago, Nobel Prize for Literature, was written against the backdrop of the Convent of Mafra;
- Ericeira is the only Surf Reserve in Europe;
- Bats play an essential role in the preservation of books and documents from the Mafra Palace Library;
- The first stone of the Mafra Convent was blessed with twelve gold coins;
- The Mafra Convent was built after a promise from King Dom João V – if the woman gave him an heir;
- In the 19th century, princes were rollerblading in the Library of the National Palace of Mafra;
- The first machine that allowed man to fly was built in Mafra;
- The Royal Family of Portugal will have fled to Brazil from a tunnel that connected the monastery to Ericeira.
Quick facts about Mafra
- The Municipality of Mafra has approximately 77 thousand inhabitants;
- The physical area of Mafra is 291.66 km2;
- The Municipality of Mafra is administratively organized in eleven parishes: Azureira and Sobral da Abelheira, Carvoeira, Encarnação, Enxara do Bispo, Gradil and Vila Franca do Rosário, Ericeira, Igreja Nova e Cheleiros, Mafra, Malveira and São Miguel de Alcança , Milharado, Santo Isidoro and Venda do Pinheiro and Santo Estêvão das Galés
The main parties and events in the Municipality of Mafra
- Bread Festival;
- Seafood Festival in Ribamar.
Mafra administrative organization
The municipality of Mafra has approximately 12 thousand inhabitants, an area of 291.66 km2, it borders on the north with Torres Vedras, on the northeast with Sobral de Monte Agraço, on the east with Arruda dos Vinhos, on the southeast with Loures, on the south with Sintra and to the west with the Atlantic Ocean. The municipality of Mafra is administratively organized into eleven parishes:
- Santo Isidoro
- Union of Parishes of Azueira and Sobral da Abelheira
- Union of the Parishes of Enxara do Bispo, Gradil and Vila Franca do Rosário
- Union of Parishes of Igreja Nova and Cheleiros
- Union of the Parishes of Malveira and São Miguel de Alcainça
- Union of the Parishes of Venda do Pinheiro and Santo Estêvão das Galés