The Mafra National Palace in Numbers

Facing Palácio Nacional de Mafra

If you’re like me, you love learning new facts and sharing them with others (although maybe not to the point where you have to create a whole blog around it…). Sometimes, though, there are just too many facts to take in. That’s exactly how I felt learning about the Mafra National Palace (Palácio Nacional de Mafra). With so much to absorb, I thought I would be fun to give you a breakdown of the Mafra National Palace by numbers.

Section of Mafra National Palace

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Billiards room Palácio Nacional de Mafra

Billiards room

The basics:

39,948 The floor area, in meters squared, of the entire palace… making it the 24th largest palace in the world!

1755 The year the palace was complete – 38 years after construction began… 300 years ago this year!

28 The number of kilometers (17.4 miles) the Mafra National Palace is from Lisbon. Its close proximity to the capital means you have 0 excuses to not visit.

1,200 The number of hectares that the Tapada Nacional de Mafra takes up. The Tapada served as one of the royal family’s hunting grounds and even one of the rooms at the palace today is full of antlers and other hunting memorabilia. Needless to say, this is my least favorite room in the palace.

300 The number of Franciscan monks that eventually came to reside at the Mafra National Palace… a significant increase from the original projected 13. This number rose so greatly due to a sudden influx of wealth from gold from Brazil.


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The Architecture:

220 The length of the façade in meters (722 feet), which is why I wasn’t able to get far away enough to capture the entire thing in a single photo. I dare you to try!

1,200 The number of rooms in the palace.

156 The number of staircases in the palace.

4,700 The number of doors and windows in the palace.


Palacio mafra

The entire palace. Photo c/o

Red floors Mafra National Palace

Paintings at Palácio Nacional de Mafra

Incredibly ornate painted walls and ceilings

Palácio Nacional de Mafra infirmary

Infirmary with individual rooms

Palácio Nacional de Mafra entrance

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The Library:

36,000 The number of books in this library. However, this is only a portion of the 60,000 books, manuscripts and documents originally in the royal library. When the Portuguese royal family fled the Napoleonic Wars to Brazil, they took thousands of literary works with them – those works never returned to Portugal and instead were used to found the National Library of Brazil.

1754 The year Pope Benedict XIV declared that anyone taking books from this library without permission from the King of Portugal would be excommunicated. Further adding importance to this library, was the Pope’s permission for literary works in the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (a list of works banned by the Catholic Church for being anti-clerical or heretical) to be housed at Mafra’s library.

Unknown (At least to me) The number of bats that live in the library and eat the insects that would otherwise destroy the priceless antique books.


Library Palácio Nacional de Mafra

The impressive library

Library column Mafra National Palace

Books Palácio Nacional de Mafra

The Basilica:

6 The number of organs you will find here. 6! Who needs 6 organs? Apparently, the Mafra National Palace does, because there are unique pieces of music specifically written for these 6 organs, which can only be heard here. Lord Byron, writing about them, stated “The six organs are the most beautiful I ever beheld, in point of decoration: we did not hear them, but were told their tones were correspondent to their splendour.”

58.5 The length of the church, in meters (192 feet).

13 The diameter of the basilica’s dome. This was the first ever dome to be built in Portugal.


Basilica Palácio Nacional de Mafra

Inside the basilica

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And finally…
1 The single promise to which the creation of this impressive palace is owed. The first three years of D. João V (King John V) of Portugal’s marriage were child-free, so he promised God that if he were granted offspring, he would build a monastery. That same year, his first daughter was born.


Basilica Floor Mafra National Palace

Stone floor inside the basilica

Me at Mafra National Palace

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  • Mariana Letras
    April 27, 2017 at 10:53 pm

    Gostei imenso, Catarina. As tuas pesquisas têm sido muito interessantes.
    Mariana Letras

    • aportugueseaffair
      April 27, 2017 at 11:05 pm

      Muito obrigada! É difícil conjugar tanta informação em pouco espaço mas faço os possíveis! 🙂

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