About Palacio Belmonte

Palácio Belmonte
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Páteo Dom Fradique, 14 | 1100-624 Lisboa | Portugal
telephone: +351 218816600
fax: +351 218816609

office email: office@palaciobelmonte.com
reservations: reservations@palaciobelmonte.com

website: www.palaciobelmonte.com
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Palace History
The first section of the Palácio was built in 1449, on the top of the ancient fortified Roman and Moorish walls, called “Cerca do Alcáçova” and “Cerca Moura”, by agregating three towers : a rectangular keep at the western extremity, a corner tower to the north built upon Roman foundations, and a pentagonal moorish tower of the VIIth century to the west, which built upon a forty meter high rock, makes up an integral part of the “Cerca Moura”.
In 1640, the family enlarged the building, adding the majestic East terrace and five façades in a classical style, giving the Palácio its present look. In 1720 and 1730 the family commissionned two Portuguese master tile-makers, Manuel Santos and Valentim de Almeida, of a unique collection of Portuguese tiles. The 59 panels of more than 30,000 tiles are to be found throughout the building and are one of the Palácio’s distinguishing features.

Restoring the Palace | The first two years
The first two years were devoted to understanding the different phases of the construction from 130 years b.c. to 1995 – archeological research, light, volumes, air circulation, materials, heat, cold, wind, rain, noise , colors,plants. During theses two years under the direction of Architect Pedro Quirino da Fonseca and with the constant help of Architect Felipe Lopes, head of the City Hall rehabilitation department, the lost but old efficient Vitruve’s lime mortar was redeveloped when we found the way to produce it (2 factories have been opened with our formula, and the National Monuments of Portugal use our lime mortar “Cal Fradical” in Portugal instead of cement). The interest of this lime mortar lies in the fact that Portugal on a coastal front is very humid with huge differences of temperature which are absorbed by the lime mortar. A booklet was published explaining the lime mortar which we offered to architects, contractors, civil servants and universities.
Then the vaults and the roofs with roman tiles lined-up were rebuilt and secured with lime mortar.
All the ceilings “a caisson” have been either restored or redone, not only for aesthetic reasons, but also for air circulation. Lastly, a natural ventilation was created in all the rooms of the Palácio by constructing air circulation conducts opening in each room with small thick stone encased vents. Three retractable canvas sails above a “green house” terrace, providing a soft pleasant lighting all-around and creating a soft, natural air density, easy to breath, were also placed. All tiled floors have been laid in the traditional way, on top of a low temperature water heated system, these tiles are made of red clay (made in Setubal and 50% baked in the sun). The 59 panels of Azulejos (XVIIIth century blue painted tiles) more than 38.000 tiles have been taken down, restored and remounted, attributed to the masters Manuel dos Santos 1710 and Joaquim de Almeida 1730. They give to all sitting rooms and some bedrooms […]

The façades and materials
The 5 “façades” from 1640, which had been poorly anchored at the time, have been restored at each level, the angles tied-up with metal pins. All historical discoveries and traces of the evolution of the construction through the ages have been highlighted. The Palácio, being a very compact part of Lisbon on top of the hill of the Saint Georges Castle, we could not succeed in treating and re-using water – the use of renewable energy was also impossible, due to the fact that all roofs are visible from the Castle.
Nevertheless, the use of lime mortar – natural ventilation – low temperature central heating – sophisticated insulation of the roofs, floors and walls, double glazing – a lot of planning of the lighting, allowed us to use a maximum of 126 kWa for around 3.700 meters, reducing by ten times the usual consumption level of energy. The old construction materials – wood – iron – roman tiles – stone was as much as possible re-used. Systems of modern communications have been installed – 3 telephone lines in each suite – (fax, internet, telephone) to optimize privacy.
Associations of rooms per suite have been done to maximize the quality of natural lighting ventilation and to minimize noise effects. The garden has been totally redesigned and planted according to organic principles with usable and numerous local species, plants, fruit, trees, flowers.
The investment has been higher than expected . The Portuguese State, the city of Lisbon and the European Union participated.
Becoming an active member of the local community of Lisbon and of Alfama has been one of our most important goals. The social corpus of the area maintained, by keeping the 21 tenants under rent control living in the four adjoining buildings. Each of their 21 apartments has been restored with the financial and technical assistance of the City Hall bringing total modern comfort while keeping the rents at their present level. On January 22nd 2000 an exhibition room was opened to the public, the Café Belmonte and to the Lisbon City Hall was offered the selection of the theme of the exhibition each year during the month of June.
Six shops on the Largo do Contador Mor and 400 meters of boutiques room on Pateo da Baixa, presenting a selection of very good products from Portugal (olive oil, cheese, wine, bread, craftsmanship, etc…), parking, small conference center and social housing are planed to open.

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