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The Praia Palace The Nacional Headquarters of the PS

Open to all of those who believe in democracy and in the country´s future.

Hand painted figurative tile panel.

Democracy is our Greatest Heritage.

The PS desires to be in tune with modern times. To be a responsible left-wing party that acknowledges and understands today´s world and is committed to build a better future. José Sócrates Socialist Party´s Secretary-General

“Because you are not alone but persist And others join hands with you So that a fairer and freer world can exist 1

Thus you carry on and do not retreat Poetry is with us out on the street” Shopia de Mello Breyner Poem “For the PS militants”, 1977 2

1. First symbol used by the Socialist Party, offered by Enzo Brunori, Italian Socialist Party militant, August 1973. 2. Portugueses Socialist Party´s Agenda, 1928. 3. Participants at the Portuguese Socialist Action Congress held in Bad Munstereifel, 19th April 1973, that decided to found the Socialist Party.


This historic building, the Headquarters of the Portuguese Socialist Party (PS) since 1975, houses the legacy of the old days and the memories of a new era – during which time, following half a century of an authoritarian regime, a modern democracy was built and strengthened in Portugal, a process in which the PS played a founding and fundamental role. As the stage of important political decisions, some of which were crucial in contemporary Portuguese history, this palace is the current location for the Secretary-General’s cabinet, the meetings of the managing bodies and for the departments, offices and services that make up the PS’s national structure. The history of Portuguese socialism is long and combative. More than one hundred and thirty years have gone by since the first Portuguese Socialist Party was established. Prior to the current PS being founded, the Portuguese Social-

A Palace with a History

ist Action (ASP) was created in 1964 in Geneva and recognised by the International Socialist movement in 1972. In order to meet the needs of a more effective and internationally visible political intervention in the fight against dictatorship, the ASP, still clandestine, decided to become the Socialist Party on the 19th of April 1973 in Bad Munstereifel, Germany, electing Mário Soares as its first secretary-general. In August 1973, the Agenda and Declaration of Principles were approved, consecrating Democratic Socialism’s values of Freedom and Social Justice. Following the 25th of April 1974 revolution, the Socialist Party played a crucial role in consolidating modern Democracy in Portugal and in its full and active integration in Europe. Three prime-ministers and two Presidents of the Portuguese Republic have already been derived from its ranks. Austere in its architecture, the building was commissioned to be built 1 1. Largo do Rato and surrounding area on the Lisbon Topographic Map, 1857.1 2. Praça Brasil, currently Largo do Rato, 1935. 2 3. Municipal works at Largo do Rato, 1957. 2 4. Main facade of the Praia Palace, 1970. 2

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Arco do Cego Archive/ Lisbon Municipal Archive. Photographic Archive / Lisbon Municipal Archive.


from scratch on the grounds of the old Royal Fine Pottery Factory (Real Fábrica da Louça, 1767-1835) around 1781 by Luiz José de Brito, Bookkeeper of the Royal Exchequer and Treasurer of Contributions for the Supervision of the Works of the Águas Livres Aqueduct.

A Palace with a Memory

In 1817 it was bought by the 1st Baron of Quintela, Joaquim Pedro Quintela (17481817), and in 1828 it was inherited by the Baron’s granddaughter, D. Maria do Carmo da Cunha Quintela (1814-1888) the Marchioness of Viana, by matrimony. During this period it was subject to many renovations to cater for the demands of its new occupants. From 1842 to 1855 new rooms were built and others refurbished: the Turkish-style fumoir lined with oriental upholstery (1842), the ‘reading and games room’ (1843) divided by an arch and supported by columns

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and then lined with ‘yellow moiré’ wallpaper, and a new room furnished in a renaissance style (1855). New archways were opened up into the ballroom to enable better access to the three new rooms (1843). On the west-facing side (Rua das Amoreiras) the extension was completed and the garden balcony was built (1852). Back in 1839 the Marquis of Viana had already bought the land and the Royal Fine Pottery Factory, having built the adjoining small palace there which also became an extension to the Viana Palace on the east-side next to the street Calçada de Bento da Rocha Cabral. In that building the Marquis constructed a chapel (with the signature of the architect Joaquim Manuel de Sousa – 1774-

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1. The “Mãe d´Água”(“Mother of Water”) and the arches of the Amoreiras garden. 2. Avenida de Álvares Cabral. 3. Triumphal Arch of the Aqueduct. 4. Rua da Escola Politécnica.



1851), later known as the Capela do Rato (Rato Chapel), made famous in the 60’s by the protest-watch that took place there against the colonial war. Between 1828 and the end of 1860 the Palácio de Viana – as it became known – was at the height of its grandeur and social life having entertained, in its grand halls, the eighteenth century social elite and royalty itself. In addition to the soirées and concerts where opera was performed, there were balls and dinner parties famous for their elegantly dressed guests. The chronicles of those times depict the opulence of the rooms, the furnishings and decorative objects. Amongst these was the gold plated silver dinner set that had once belonged to Catherine of Russia. The luxurious parties of the Marquees of Viana, very much like all those of the 1840’s high-society, were a sort of protected hideaway from the political and social unrest out on the streets.

A House with a life

Following the Marquises of Viana’s fall to ruin the Palace was bought in 1876 by D. Luís Coutinho de Albergaria Freire (1797-?) the 1st Viscount of Monforte. This noble house was inherited by his daughter, D. Maria José Coutinho Maldonado Albergaria Freire, who was married to D. António Borges de Medeiros Dias da Câmara e Sousa (1829-1913) the 1st Marquis of Praia. From then on it became known as the Palácio Praia e Monforte. Various ornamental improvement projects on the interiors followed, and areas of the building were reorganised. The Palace, which was left abandoned and deteriorated following the ruin of the Marquises of Viana, was initially revitalised in an updated style to suit the revivalism trends of the late 19th century. Dating back to those times are the reconstruction of the Chinese Room, with paintings from 1881/3; the coving and


1. Palace entrance hall. 2. Corridor with photo gallery of leaders. 3. Main staircase. 4. The National Secretariat´s meeting room.




the transoms on the doors of the Coat of Arms Room where the Praia and Monforte family coat of arms is represented, the canvases that frame the staircase (1880), and all the heraldic quotes scattered around the rooms, including the coat of arms mounted over the pediment on the west facade. After 1921, when both buildings were separated from one another due to an inheritance, the Palace was adapted to suit the requirements of daily life. On the noble floor, walls and service stairways were demolished; rooms divided to allow for a study, several bedrooms, bathrooms, a dining room, and a kitchen with pantry and scullery. On the other floors, room was made for storage and for the house’s various utility services.


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A Preserved Building

1. Music Hall (auditorium with one-hundred seats). 2. Noble Hall, used for meetings. 3. Chinese Room. 4. Secretary-General´s office. 5. Office of the Organisation´s National Secretary.

The palace remained in the family up until the 4th Marquis of Praia and Monforte, Duarte António Borges Coutinho da Câmara (1921-1981). A renowned economist, he was also involved in sports management having been appointed in 1969 as president of the Sport Lisboa e Benfica football club for eight years. This beautiful building, loaned in 1975 and then rented out, was later bought by the Socialist Party (31st December 1986) from the descendants of the 4th Marquis of Praia and Monforte, and from then on it was included into the party’s assets.

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PS National Headquarters The building is located at Largo do Rato, one of the prominent areas of the city of Lisbon and a place of great historical and urban importance. It was in this area that the city’s first industrial centre was created, fostered by the Marquis of Pombal and set beneath the Águas Livres Aqueduct. It included the Royal Silk Factory (Real Fábrica das Sedas, 1757-1855), the Royal Fine Pottery Factory (17671835) and various subsidiary factories. The house has a discrete plasticity about it and still reflects the style of the Pombal era. On the main façade, composed of eleven window and door frames spread out over two floors, the ornamental restraint is only counteracted by the curvaceous lines of the balcony door-frames on the noble floor, by the corner capitals and by the prominent central portal which extends towards the upper level, by means of a trimming stone on the sill.

The broad atrium with detailed painted plaster ceilings (attributed to the painter/plasterer Rodrigues Pita) leads the way to the magnificent staircase which splits into two flights of stairs, at the first landing. The theatrical effect of its design allows a glimpse of the access to the noble halls, repeating in a set of mirrors the heraldic quotes engraved on the iron guards, on the coving and on the frames. As a setting for the staircase, there are three oil canvases (around 1880) representing Autumn, Summer and Spring. They are signed by the Oporto painter Joaquim Vitorino Ribeiro (1849-1928) The ornamental details on the surrounding walls, as well as in the noble halls, reveal a clear neoclassical inclination which was fashionable in the 18th century. In the Music Hall, which is currently used for political, social and cultural meetings, the decoration on the ceiling and walls – with winged children holding musical instruments mingling with flowing muses – is a clear reference to music and dance. The Noble Hall or Mirror Hall has a distinctive intricate ceiling entirely decorated with golden stucco and plaster ornaments, which also extend out to the transoms and wall-frames. Two beautiful spiral columns covered with vegetation motifs – on which eagles rest – surround the entrance to the room. Also on the noble floor, are other rooms exhibiting the eclectic fashion of those times, such as the Chinese Room with its doors covered in oriental-motif paintings, depicting scenes of daily-life. The panelling on the transoms was subject to elaborate work. The columns which limit the mural canvases – in plaster work resembling straw – and the beautiful fireplace, are also enhanced by encrustations of mother of pearl and ceramic elements. This work (c. 1881) has the signature of the painter Jorge C. Ferreira Pinto.

“...As if the summer and the light from the Jacarandas would last eternaly...” Eugénio de Andrade

The Coat of Arms Room, where the Party’s leaders convene, has an intricate ceiling as well as the coats of arms of the Praia and Monforte families up on the transoms. The ceiling ornaments, originally white and gold, and recovered during the Baron of Quintela’s time, stand out from the shades of green and ash that were added on in more recent times. The main corridor currently connects the noble halls, the SecretaryGeneral’s offices, those of the National Secretaries and the garden. It is covered in tile ashlars, some of which have a sponged effect and blue water-colours over white background, inspired by French images with fêtes galantes motifs by Watteau (16841721), or with maritime or hunting scenes, and yet more groups of polychrome frames where the manganese is accentuated, with putti depicting leisurely moments. Halfway down the corridor there is a secondary staircase with a vaulted ceiling with elaborate plaster work and marbled walls which leads towards the lower floors. The niche on the first landing currently exhibits a bust of the Republic. The rear facade preserves the curved lines on the shutters of the prominent central structure, crowned by the triangular pediment which displays, in an ennobling manner, the coat of arms of the Praia and Monforte houses. It is set in intimate articulation with the garden.

The two-tier garden preserves a natural and organic relationship with the land. On the upper level, the ‘water chest’ and the water tank and spout are reminiscent of the original building’s old courtyard. On the lower level there is an elegant fountain with a circular lake, centred on the staircase axis which projects the garden’s privileged area. The double staircase, crowned by a railing and covered by numerous polychrome tiles, brings both levels together. The choice in motifs for the drawings on the tiles alludes to symbology: eagles, rings and crowns intertwined with floral motifs, making a reference to the bond between the houses of Praia and Monforte. The old Palace, uninhabited ever since its last occupant, was brought back to life when the Socialist Party turned it into its headquarters. Whilst preserving the building’s historical and artistic dignity, the party revitalised and re-qualified it by adapting it to current needs, and by enhancing its potential and increasing its architectural and heritage value. This process has entailed a permanent preservation and restoration programme which has been underway, covering from the façade to the garden. Located in one of Lisbon’s main squares, this beautiful house is a melting pot of characteristics from past centuries combined with new technologies and contemporary art. Here we find memories of both the distant and the recent past, and amongst its walls important decisions are made concerning the future.







1. Stained glass in the entrance to the palace. 2. Coat of Arms Room. 3. Noble Hall. 4. Chinese Room. 5. Chinese Room. 6. Music Hall. 7. Hunting Trophy Room. 8. Garden fountain statue.




Our party’s headquarters at Largo do Rato, one of Lisbon’s historical centres, is a family home to all socialists. Other district headquarters and branches do not dispute its importance and central nature. It is a noble building, of excellent architectural design, with highly functional and decorative interiors. The post 25th of April went past it. From its balcony, facing the people who spontaneously gathered there, the most important victories were celebrated. Inside it, fundamental political decisions for the future of our country were discussed, as well as measures to protect and consolidate democracy, after the April revolution, and to instate the Rule of Law. Future prospects for Portugal were also defined, such as the European option. The office of the PS’s Secretary-General is there. This is also where the party’s Secretariat and National Commission meet. Here national and foreign visitors and delegations are received.

A living space, a space with a history. President of the Socialist Party

Celebrations take place of dates and events which have marked the existence of the PS and that are today a part of its historical legacy. Militants come to it in search of information, clarifications and solutions for their problems. When the weather is appealing, warm reunions take place in its pleasant garden. During electoral campaigns, when propaganda material is an essential work tool, the most diligent militants appear in search of attractive contributions. The portrait gallery of the Secretary-Generals, from Mário Soares to José Socrates, and of former Presidents, from António Macedo to Almeida Santos, is a living record of the PS’s life. The portraits of Antero de Quental and José Fontana bring back to the present its most remote history. All families need a family home. This is the one for the socialist family.

Open to all of those who believe in democracy and in the country´s future.

National Headquarters of the Socialist Party Largo do Rato, nº 2 1269-143 LISBOA Phone: 21 382 20 00 Fax: 21 382 20 49 email:

Agosto 2010 Photographs by Ricardo Oliveira

The Praia Palace

The Nacional Headquarters of the PS

Palacio Praia - The Nacional Headquarters of the Socialist Party  

Palacio Praia - The Nacional Headquarters of the Socialist Party