The convent of Mafra will start its third centenary celebration, which will last one year, emphasising the moment its first stone was set up to build the basilica. Discover with us its history and the events that will lead the celebration of this moment.
Who never went to visit the convent of Mafra, does not know that the most significant exposure to baroque in Portugal started here during the reign of D. João V. The history of how the convent come to be built is related to the birth of the future king D. José I. His parents were in a very difficult period of time for a monarch family, having been married three years without any children, especially male heirs.
The story goes that the king listened to the advice of a friar who gave him the solution: to build a convent in Mafra and his long-desired heir would be born. And the king kept his promised and his son was born: the future king D. José I. There is, however, another side to the story that tell us the construction of the convent was done in order for the king to cure himself of a disease he had. The richness of the construction is a reflection of the life of D. João V. The greatness and the French style is mainly because of the gold imported from Brazil. The convent and the Palace of Mafra took many years to be built, as it was expected, and even at present the construction is not entirely complete…The building occupies almost 4 hectares, it has 1,200 rooms, more than 4,700 doors and windows, 156 staircases and 29 backyards. Also surprising are the two carillons, with 92 bells, the king had made brought from Flanders and which constitute the largest historical composite in the world.
Next year, 300 years are celebrated since the moment the first stone was set for the construction of the basilica. The event begins today and will last one full year. 50 cultural and religious initiatives are scheduled to take place. In 2017, the monument will undergo some refurbishments which include a new elevator and restoration works in the Throne Room. Also, new ‘audio-guides’ will be available for visitors.
The program starts today with a firework show and a conference led by the auxiliary bishop of Lisbon, D. Nuno Brás-Martins. A new edition of the José Saramago Convent Memorial, with a foreword by Carlos Reis and John Abel Mata illustrations, will be released on the 10th of December. The launch signals 18 years of since the author received the Nobel Prize. On the 17th and on the 18th of December, the convent will host a concert with the participation of the Music Academy of Santa Cecilia Choir of Lisbon.
During the year 2017, other religious and cultural events will take place, such as theatre performances, historical recreations, project mapping, culinary shows and concerts. The program ends on the 17th of November, 2017 with the official celebration of the 300th anniversary of the basilica, with a concert and fireworks.
Translation by Ioana Bota