That moment when a site or attraction just sneaks up on you, stops you in your tracks, & makes you go wow. I had one of those moments today when I paid a visit to Mafra, Portugal, and first laid eyes on the town’s monumentally glorious palace. Wow indeed.

The Palacio Nacional de Mafra (Mafra National Palace), Mafra, Portugal. August 23rd 2013

The Palacio Nacional de Mafra (Mafra National Palace), Mafra (map-pointer-icon), Portugal. August 23rd 2013

The Baroque and Italianized Neoclassical palace-monastery was built in the 18th Century on the orders of King John V (1689-1750) and is probably the most important monument found in the country in the Portuguese Baroque style. Organised symmetrically, the building evolves from its central axis with its white, twin-towered Basilica, consecrated in October 1730, the central point of the 232-metre long façade. The Basilica is flanked by the yellow façade of the Palace with the King’s apartments at one end and the Queen’s at the other – although the building never did serve as a royal residence.

The Palacio Nacional de Mafra (Mafra National Palace), Mafra, Portugal. August 23rd 2013.

The Palacio Nacional de Mafra (Mafra National Palace), Mafra, Portugal. August 23rd 2013.

Made of limestone & marble and inspired by the architecture of Papal Rome, the four hectare building has 1,200 rooms with more than 4,700 doors and windows, 156 stairways and 29 patios and courtyards. This vast complex is among the most sumptuous Baroque buildings in Portugal & one of the biggest buildings constructed in Europe during the 18th century; such displays of magnificence were only made possible by the wealth that flowed into Portugal from its overseas colony of Brazil.

Looking small on the steps fronting the magnificent Palacio Nacional de Mafra (Mafra National Palace), Mafra, Portugal. August 23rd 2013.

Looking small on the steps fronting the magnificent Palacio Nacional de Mafra (Mafra National Palace), Mafra, Portugal. August 23rd 2013.

The Palacio Nacional de Mafra (Mafra National Palace), Mafra, Portugal. August 23rd 2013.

The Palacio Nacional de Mafra (Mafra National Palace), Mafra, Portugal. August 23rd 2013.

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