The restoration of the Grand Hall of the Palace of Pena is now complete

Salão Nobre, Palácio da Pena ©Parques de Sintra
The project, which involved an investment of 262,500 euros over three years, consisted of the overall refurbishment of the infrastructures, the repair and correction of the flooring and the restoration of the wooden and stucco cladding of the walls and ceiling. It also involved the restoration of the chandeliers, the stained-glass windows and the furniture specially commissioned by King Fernando, including pieces that are normally kept in reserve and the porcelain objects. Based on historical information and the support of consultants, an attempt was made to return the Hall to its original state. In conducting historical research, the project had the support of the analyses made of materials by the José de Figueiredo Laboratory (General Directorate for Cultural Heritage – DGPC).

The need to undertake repair and restoration work in the Grand Hall of the Palace of Pena was already an urgent affair, given the condition in which the room found itself, particularly the poor state of the flooring, stained-glass windows and badly conserved porcelain pieces, the deteriorated state of the stucco work (which was already beginning to disappear), the furniture that had lost most of its original colour and the infrastructures that were completely out-of-date given the Palace’s present-day needs.

Among the project’s more innovative or original features are, for example, the fact that it took a month to find the original colour of the walls through chromatic analysis undertaken in the laboratory; the placement of LED strips outside the windows so that the stained-glass panes can be observed at night-time; the adoption of an innovative fire detection system involving continuous suction of the air (with constant analysis of the CO2 parameters) and without the need to place special boxes on the ceiling; the use of LED light bulbs not only in order to reduce energy consumption and prevent fires, but also so as not to cause deterioration of the palace’s collection (due to the absence of UV rays); and the four days that were needed to reposition the chandelier after its restoration and to reassemble the statues of the “Turks”.

The linings of the walls and ceiling (with both smooth and relief stucco work) were treated using the original techniques and materials. They were thoroughly cleaned, followed by an extensive and complex restoration of their original colour (after painstaking research).
The flooring was completely repaired and restored, with interventions taking place at the level of its structure and its surface, and the introduction of new infrastructures. This process included removing a significant part of the wooden floor for the purposes of disinfestation and in order to strengthen the supports of the beams in the walls, as well as to replace the deteriorated areas.

All the furniture was completely restored, particularly the footstools and ottomans, in order to faithfully reproduce the original upholstery. Dating from the 19th century, this consists of goatskin dyed with a natural red colour, according to the analysis made of pieces of the original material by the Leather Industries Technological Centre.
The decorative objects, such as the Asian porcelains, were also submitted to conservation and restoration work, in an attempt to reproduce their exact appearance in the time of King Fernando.

The restoration of the lighting (the chandelier and the four torches held by “Turks”) was one of the main features of the project. These were all completely dismantled and cleaned; and, once the rust had been removed and their surface stabilised, they were protected and fitted with special light bulbs.

The restoration of the stained-glass windows also included the repair of the frames, the consolidation of the lead calms, and the treatment of cracks and gaps in the colouring.
The Calabash Stairs and the Entrance Hall were also restored, the former intervention involving a full restoration of the decorative painting (which was almost completely erased) and the correction of the natural ventilation, while, in the latter space, work was largely centred on the restoration of the moulded stucco panels.

The intervention also included complete alterations to the infrastructures, which involved placing the electric sockets in floor boxes (instead of in the walls) and thus removing all wires from view; the lighting was designed to be adapted to various uses of the room, based on LED technology; and the natural ventilation was improved through grilles placed in the ceiling and roof and simple ventilators.

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