About 40 km from the capital and 10 km from the coast, it is famous for hosting the magnificent and imposing National Palace of Mafra, also known as Mafra Convent. Considered one of the greatest monuments in the whole world, it is the most important baroque monument of Portugal, built in 1717 by King D. João V. Classified as a National Monument in 1910, the Palace, the adjacent forest called the National Tapada of Mafra and the Garden of the Siege (Garden of the King inspired by Versailles) are inscribed in the list of candidates for World Heritage of UNESCO.
Constructed of lioz stone from the region, originally designed for a convent of 13 friars, it was home to about 300, occupying today an area with about four hectares (37,790 m2) with 1200 divisions, more than 4700 doors and windows, 156 staircases and 29 courtyards and lobbies.
The Royal Palace occupied the entire noble floor of the building and the two turrets, the North one being destined for the King’s Palace and the South one for the Queen, separated by a long gallery of 232 m – the largest palatial corridor in Europe – used for “Walk” of the court, so in the style of the century. XVIII. In this palace lies the most beautiful library in the world, with a valuable collection of about 36,000 volumes, including rare works such as the collection of incunabula (works printed up to 1500) or the famous “Chronicle of Nuremberg” (1493), several Bibles or the first Encyclopaedia (known as Diderot and D’Alembert), the Illuminated Hours of the 15th Century, and an important nucleus of musical scores, especially written for the Basilica’s six-organ ensemble, unique in the world.
A Bula granted by Pope Benedict XIV allowed to house in this library some works of the “Index of Prohibited Books” by the Catholic Church of the areas of political science, astronomy, astrology, alchemy and esoterism. And because “Mafra is music,” the convent has a set of 2 chimes, meaning a series of bells tuned musically to each other with ninety-eight bells, which makes them one of the largest in the world. José Saramago, Nobel Prize for Literature 1998, wrote the “Memorial of the Convent” inspired by the famous monument and society of the time.
Mafra is part of the “saloia region” that in the past supplied the capital with vegetables, appealing for its gastronomy, highlighting the delicious Pão de Mafra, a registered brand since 2012, the typical dishes of a region dedicated to livestock, fishing, hunting specialties from Tapada de Mafra and a large variety of traditional Portuguese cuisine.