LISBON, Portugal — It was all the rage among the nobility of 17th-century Lisbon to build a palace in Lumiar, then an area of olive groves and vineyards a few miles outside the Portuguese capital.
These days the district is a leafy outlying suburb of the city, and the olive groves and vineyards are long gone. Yet many of the palaces remain; some atmospherically crumbling and abandoned, some turned into museums, others as luxurious private homes.
One example is Quinta de São Sebastião, a six-bedroom palace surrounded by lush formal gardens with links to one of the country’s most important monarchs.
According to local legend, the palace was built for King John V, known as Portugal’s “Sun King” and in his day one of the world’s richest sovereigns. The property is now on the market with Engel & Volkers Lisbon for 7.5 million euros, or about $8.2 million.
Portugal’s national architectural heritage database, SIPA, cites the presence of the king’s coat of arms on the rear facade of the building as evidence of a possible royal connection.
Hidden from the road by high walls, one enters through a series of patios, all extravagantly decorated with hand-painted mosaic tiles depicting scenes of hunting and banquets and figures of Roman halberdiers — a typically Portuguese motif.
The main entrance hall gives way to a grand stone staircase built out of lioz, a local pink-and-white limestone.
Throughout the three-floor property, which has a surface area of 998 square meters, or 10,742 square feet, main reception rooms bear extravagant baroque and rococo decorations. These include wall and ceiling frescoes, gilded ceiling moldings and painted trompe l’oeil scenes.
The owner, a Portuguese entrepreneur with a chain of garden centers who does not wish to be identified, said that when he bought the property eight years ago, it was in excellent condition.
“I’ve touched bits up here and there but that’s all I’ve needed to do,” he said. He added that he was selling the property as he had another large house in the north of Portugal.
Hand-painted mosaic tiles, ubiquitous in Portugal, where they are known as azulejos, are used extensively in the interior and exterior of the house. In this house, multiple tiles tend to form larger scenes rather than repetitive, symmetrical designs.
This makes replacing them expensive, as each one is different and must be commissioned individually from an artist, the owner said.
The main reception room ceiling is painted with motifs of butterflies and birds converging on the center of the room. The owner has replaced radiators with a duct-based system of central heating so as not to obstruct the decorative paintwork.
A door hidden behind a panel upstairs gives access to the chandeliers, which can be easily lowered for cleaning or changing a bulb.
A wood-paneled study on the second floor bears carved designs that the owner believes are Masonic in origin. The main reception rooms have black marble fireplaces.
Upstairs, an oval-shaped music room with a pink, green and black marble floor is painted with frescoes of flowers, swans, and maritime and country scenes. It has heavy wooden doors that can be closed to enhance the acoustics.
The chapel, on the first floor, has stained-glass windows, baroque tiling and a red marble font. There are six en suite bedrooms in the main house, including four that have living rooms, and there are seven more bedrooms in the service quarters.
Green, pink and black marble floors also decorate a pavilion on the other side of the garden, which is equipped with a professional kitchen for events.
The 3,000-square-meter garden contains a baroque fountain and a loggia surrounded by cypress trees.
A curved bench in a corner of the garden sits under an illustration in painted tiles which is believed to depict King John V seducing the mother superior of a local convent. This feature is mentioned in the SIPA database as further evidence of a possible royal link. The extensive hand-painted trompe l’oeil scenes that decorate many of the walls are signed by the Portuguese artist Antero Basalisa and dated 1968.
Manuel Neto, director of Engel & Volkers Lisbon, said that, over the past two decades, the Lumiar neighborhood had become particularly popular among the wealthy, who were drawn by its village feel and cooler temperatures.
The area is about a 15-minute drive from central Lisbon and the airport.
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