Is anybody home?

This is a story about visiting someone’s private home. While the door was opened I could just get in.

Fronteira, a palace in Lisbon

Or not?

This is a real palace.

You may need as much as two weeks to get to know Lisbon for real. You would need that time to discover diverse historical neighborhoods, viewpoints, parks, squares, staircases, museums, the castles and palaces of Sintra, the coast around Cascais and also the southern side of Tagus… So, this guide is intended to tell you something about intriguing out of the box experiences  to have in Lisbon.

After writing about the light effects that are possible only at the Tagus waterfront, I will move to another part of the city. So, when it started raining, featuring a full rainbow above the northern parts of Lisbon, I went to the subway station Baixa-Chiado, took the blue line, and exited at the Jardim Zoologico station. After some short moments of feeling lost (although I had been in that part of the city before!), I found a taxi, that took me right next to the Monsanto park (that’s the name of that park, nothing to do with anything else that has the same name), in front of the Fronteira Palace.

Lisbon has many palaces, many of them serving today as museums, event venues, embassies, ministries or other government institutions, hotels etc. But the Fronteira Palace is still owned by the noble family that started building it as early as in the 17th century. Beautiful entrance façade is only the beginning of this amazing experience.

The Mascarenhas Family, that holds the title of Marquises of Fronteira and Alorna, still lives in this palace, having one part as a proper residence, while another part is opened to visitors and rarely used by the owners. The library is absolutely lovely, but since I respected their no photo policy, I don’t have any pictures taken inside the palace. I just have a picture of the view from the library window, I believe that book lovers will right now be aware how fantastic is this place. Dear reader, I think you should just go and see these interiors!

Fronteira, a palace in Lisbon - the view from its library
A perfect view for all the book lovers! :p

The whole visit was guided, in Portuguese, English, and French subsequently. The Battle room is an artistic masterpiece covered in many historical azulejos painting, telling the stories about the Portuguese independence from Spain in the 17th century. The Mascarenhas family supported that cause, basically.

What is “azulejos”?

A painting made of ceramic tiles. Simple as that.

Fronteira Palace, Lisbon
Such a romantic bench 😉
Azulejos Palacio de Fronteira Lisbon
Is this monkey smoking? Oh, no…


One of my favorite curiosities about this house and family is the story of Stroganoff. A lady from this family married to a man from the famous Russian noble house of Stroganov. Her husband had some specific problems with his teeth, a condition that was quite common at that time, so he could not consume the foods that are hard to chew. According to historians and our guide, she invented the Stroganoff dish, making the beef apparently softer. The dish was named after the family, and adopted by French cuisine with the family name, that was slightly changed afterward.

Interesting, isn’t it?

Meet a Noble Family Home in Lisbon

After seeing the magnificent staircase, library, battle room, living room, dining room, intimate salons, the whole group moved to the gardens. Gardens are also absolutely full of azulejos and sculptures of all kinds, containing also some exotic features. The real star of these gardens is a black swan.

Fronteira Palace Gardens, Lisbon
There is a lake in front of this garden building (full of azulejos). The SWAN lives there 😀

So since I’m not a princess and I don’t have any palace, I can just pass by one, visit it, and ask, “is anybody home”? At that moment the family was at their other, rural property because it was Saturday. They have a foundation and they also support arts and research. They seem to be lovely people 🙂

Fronteira Palace Gardens, Lisbon
Look at me, I’m Mr. Swan 🙂



  • Lisbon looks stunning! I love all of the tile work. We spent a few days in Porto, but didn’t have time to visit Lisbon. I can’t imagine the time and money involved in the upkeep of a palace! Thanks for sharing.

  • My husband and I spent two weeks in Portugal last year and loved it. We only got to spend two days in Lisbon and desperately want to return!

  • So beautiful and interesting, especially the Stroganoff story 🙂 We also had a great time in Lisbon, such a pictoresque city with its charming neighorhoods, thanks for sharing!

  • Lisbon sounds so nice! Though it has never been on my list…until now. I like how you share many interesting facts.
    I wonder if they have awesome libraries with magnificent decors?! I would love to see that.
    Great post 🙂

  • I find it amazing that original family still owns the house. So many in the UK have fallen into disrepair because the families who owned them have died out!

  • Lisbon is on my list of places to travel, I love the story in your post about Stroganoff. Their palace looks like a wonderful to explore.

  • I, too, love to explore museums (and palaces, too). How fun it is to read your post and imagine how interesting it must have been. Isn’t it frustrating when they don’t let you take photos?! But you still got some nice shots of the view from the library and the gardens.

  • I’m visiting Lisbon next month so loved reading this! Will check out your other Lisbon posts too.

  • Lisbon is creeping up the list and I’m sure I’ll be there soon. You pictures make this place look stunning, I’ll be sure to add it to the things to see in the city list. Thanks for sharing.

  • This is such an interesting post with so much information. How fascinating Who knew about the beginnings of Stroganoff?! That library sounds like a dream. I’d love to visit.

  • lool this story about stroganoff is new to me! I love to visit these old houses that work as museums, they are like capsule time!

  • Lisbon is such a beautiful town. I could spend easily two weeks or more here. For me those beautiful green gardens that you visited towards the end are the best part of the trip. So much greenery to soak in…

  • I had no idea that Stroganoff was invented in Portugal! I always thought it was an Eastern European dish! I would love to read a book standing in that window, having that amazing view! 🙂

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