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Important Figures

King Manuel I

King Manuel I © Museum of Lisbon – Palácio Pimenta

Manuel I (1469-1521) was the fifth king of the Avis dynasty. He reigned between 1469 and 1521.

Until 1503, King Manuel’s main residence was the Royal Palace at the castle. He lived here during his marriage to Dona Isabel and, later, it was the setting of his marriage to Maria of Aragon. It was at the palace that he received Vasco da Gama in 1499, on his return from his maritime expedition to India. It was also where he celebrated Christmas in 1500, as reported by the Castilian ambassador, Ochoa de Isasaga. In 1502, the crown prince, the future John III. Was born, an event that was celebrated with the staging of the Act of the Visitation, or Monologue of the Cowboy, by Gil Vicente, a seminal play in Portuguese theatre.

He undertook works at the castle palace. In the Ogival Room and at the Espírito Santo gateway, the armillary sphere, the heraldic symbol of King Manuel, reminds us of the improvements that took place during his reign. A portal made up of twisted columns with multifaceted bases and plant capitals is still preserved on the terraces of the old palace. The Torre do Tombo, the royal archive, was also modified and enlarged.

Maritime expansion and trade strengthened Manuel I’s ties with the sea. Next to the Tagus estuary, he ordered the construction of the Ribeira Palace, breaking the position the castle hill held as the city’s centre of power. However, the castle’s palaces continued to be royal residences, inhabited not by the king, but by a dethroned queen: Joanna of Trastâmara.