The Cadaval Palace

Until December 10, 2023, the rooms of Cadaval Palace host the exhibition of contemporary ceramics, “Obrigado à Terra”, curated by Pierre Passebon. These spaces, usually inhabited by echoes of history, welcome unique pieces from 35 artists of various nationalities until the end of the year. Each object reflects the vision of its creator, encompassing a diversity of styles, techniques, and themes, celebrating the transformative power of ceramics.

The Cadaval Palace, known for its architectural grandeur and embodiment of Portuguese culture, serves as the backdrop for a memorable exhibition, offering an opportunity to discover how the historical rooms of the palace come to life in a new way.

View gallery

Visiting the Cadaval Palace is to feel up close what is also the history of Portugal. The ancestral home and the property of the Dukes of Cadaval family, since its foundation in the 14th century until today, the Palace was built on the ruins of a Moorish Castle in the heart of Évora, and has been able to extend itself over time in all its essence through careful intervention programs.

Located in front of the Roman Temple, the Palace is a singular example of the country’s architectural heritage, resulting from a unique combination of Mudéjar, Gothic and Manueline styles. The building’s body includes a vast multi-storey residential area, two interior gardens and a church that is the final resting place for every generation of the Dukes of Cadaval family. The church is, moreover, a national reference given its stunning interior, where azulejo tile panels signed and dated from the beginning of the 18th century prevail.

Martim Afonso de Melo, noble servant of the Grand Master of the Order of Aviz and descendant of the Portuguese royal family, commissioned the building, then designated the Palace of the Tower of the Five Shields. The Palace served as the temporary residence of the monarchs Dom João II, Dom João IV and Dom João V. The Palace was also used to imprison the Duke Dom Fernando II of Braganza, accused of conspiring against King Dom João II and subsequently beheaded in the Praça do Giraldo, in Évora, in 1483.

Today the Palace remains the residence of the Dukes of Cadaval, although the church and some of the rooms are open to the public throughout the year, exhibiting a collection of historical and contemporary pieces from the family: books, charters, armoury, painting, sculpture, furniture, porcelain, portraits and travel accessories, among other objects of value and major historical interest. At the same time, the Palace temporarily hosts several international cultural and artistic exhibitions.

The Cadaval Palace

The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace

Church of Saint John the Evangelist

View gallery

The Church of the Cadaval Palace, a private property and a place of worship, is also known and referred to in books and guides as the Church of Saint John the Evangelist or as the Church of Lóios, for having been part of the Convent of the Order of Saint Eligius, where Lóios was the corrupted form of the Portuguese word for Eligius. Founded in 1485, it was built on the ruins of an Moorish castle, destroyed by the revolts of the Grand Master of Aviz in the 14th century.

Restored in 1957 and 1958, by Dom Jaime Álvares Pereira de Melo, 10th Duke of Cadaval and father of the current Duchess, the church was returned to its original beauty and splendour, carefully preserving its most iconic features which make this church one of the most beautiful private religious temples in Portugal.

The Church presents itself with a majestic Gothic portico, from the last third of the 15th century, and includes a canopy-shaped tombstone with the inscription of the church’s foundation date and the coat of arms of its founder, Dom Rodrigo de Melo, 1st Count of Olivença.

The nave is decorated with gothic ribbed vaulting and lined with a stunning collection of azulejo tile panels painted by António de Oliveira, signed by the artist and dated from 1711, which portray scenes from the life of the Patriarch of Venice, Saint Lawrence Giustiniani, founder of the Order of Saint Eligius. The floor of the church contains many tombs of the various generations of the Dukes of Cadaval and their ancestors since the 15th century and a crypt with an ossuary attributed to the friars of the Order of Saint Eligius. In the central nave, it is also possible to admire a Moorish cistern. On one of the side walls, connecting directly to the Palace, looms a 17th-century tribune, commissioned by the 1st Duke of Cadaval, Dom Nuno Álvares Pereira de Melo.

The Church’s chancel features a gilt carved altar, in the Mannerist style of the transition period from the Renaissance to the Baroque and its images represent Saint John the Evangelist, founder of the congregation of the same name, and Saint Lawrence Giustiniani, founder of the Order of Saint Eligius. The walls are covered with multi-coloured tapestry-style 17th century azulejo tiling. On the floor are two original engraved marble tombstones – one portrays the figures of Dom Rodrigo de Melo, 1st Count of Olivença, founder of the church and his wife, Countess Dona Isabel de Meneses, and the other represents the figures of Dom Álvaro de Braganza and his wife, Dona Filipa de Melo, Countess of Olivença.

The Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament imposes itself with its golden altar dating from the 18th century. Standing out on one of the side walls, the 16th century Renaissance tomb of Dom Francisco de Melo, a great Latinist and advisor to King Dom João III. The tomb’s design is attributed to the French architect Nicolau Chanterene. On the other wall of this chapel is the tomb of Dom Manuel de Melo, father of Dom Francisco de Melo, 2nd Captain and Governor of Tangier.

Church of Saint John the Evangelist

Church of Saint John the Evangelist
Church of Saint John the Evangelist
Church of Saint John the Evangelist
Church of Saint John the Evangelist
Church of Saint John the Evangelist
Church of Saint John the Evangelist
Church of Saint John the Evangelist
Church of Saint John the Evangelist
Church of Saint John the Evangelist
Church of Saint John the Evangelist
Church of Saint John the Evangelist
Church of Saint John the Evangelist
Church of Saint John the Evangelist

The Dukes of Cadaval Family

The title of Duke of Cadaval was created by King Dom João IV on April 26, 1648, date of birth of the Infant Dom Pedro, the future King Dom Pedro II. The first Duke of Cadaval was Dom Nuno Álvares Pereira de Melo (1638-1727), son of Dom Francisco Manuel de Melo, one of the guiding forces behind the restoration of national independence in 1640, from whom Dom Nuno would also inherit the title of Count of Tentúgal and Marquis of Ferreira.

Having amassed power, inheritances and titles, Dom Francisco Manuel de Melo became one of the most powerful members of the nobility in the kingdom, with the family’s involvement in the struggle for the cause of national independence since 1580, which reached a high point with the restoration in 1640, greatly contributing to his vast estate.

The Dukes of Cadaval share their lineage with the Royal House of Braganza, since they are descended from the House of Braganza through Dom Álvaro, son of the 2nd Duke of Braganza and his wife, Dona Joana, daughter of the 2nd Lord of Cadaval. Every Duke of Cadaval descends from the first king of Portugal, King Dom Afonso Henriques and from the “Saint Constable”, Dom Nuno Álvares Pereira. The many privileges of the House of Dukes of Cadaval included, among others, the right to appoint and confirm municipal councillors, being able to appoint ombudsmen, scribes, inquirers, accountants and others within the lands under their jurisdiction.

Since 1648 until today, the dukedom of Cadaval has been held successively by 11 generations. Dom Jaime, the 10th Duke of Cadaval, died in Lisbon, on August 1, 2001, leaving widow Dona Claudine and two daughters, Dona Diana, then unmarried, and Dona Alexandra. The current Duchess of Cadaval, 11th title holder, is the eldest daughter of the couple, Dona Diana Álvares Pereira de Melo, HRH Princess Diana d’Orléans, Duchess of Anjou, who married on June 21, 2008, in the Cathedral of Évora, with HRH Prince Charles-Phillippe d’Orléans, Duke of Anjou, descendant of the Kings of France. The couple has a daughter, HRH Princess Isabelle d’Orléans, born in Lisbon, on February 22, 2012.

The Dukes of Cadaval Family