Raio Palace

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Palace of Raio (Palácio do Raio)
Palace (Palácio)
Raio Palace.JPG
The front facade of the Raio Palace, from Rua do Raio
Named for: Miguel José Raio, Viscount of São Lázaro
Country  Portugal
Region Norte
District Braga
Municipality Braga
Location São José de São Lázaro
 - elevation 175 m (574 ft)
 - coordinates 41°32′54.16″N 8°25′21.46″W / 41.5483778°N 8.4226278°W / 41.5483778; -8.4226278Coordinates: 41°32′54.16″N 8°25′21.46″W / 41.5483778°N 8.4226278°W / 41.5483778; -8.4226278
Length 34.30 m (113 ft), Northwest-Southeast
Width 28.49 m (93 ft), Southwest-Northeast
Architects André Soares (architect)
Styles Baroque, Rococo
Materials Granite from Braga and Gondizalves, Masonry, Chestnut wood, Azulejo tile
Origin c. 1754
 - Initiated c. 1754
 - Completion c. 1755
Owner Portuguese Republic
For public Private
Easiest access Rua do Raio
Management Instituto Gestão do Patrimonio Arquitectónico e Arqueológico
Operator Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Braga
Status Property of Public Interest
Listing Decree 40/684; DG146, 13 July 1956
Wikimedia Commons: Raio Palace

The Palace of Raio (Portuguese: Palácio do Raio) is a Baroque-era residence in the urbanized area of the municipality of Braga, in the civil parish of São José de São Lázaro. It is an example of the late Baroque, early Rococo style of decoration by Portuguese architect André Soares, notable for his influence in the northern Baroque movement.


The second-floor balcony with ornate decoration and monolithic lintel, and flanking sculptures
Examples of the flanking windows on the second-floor, less ornate than the central block

The construction of this ornate palace was ordered by João Duarte de Faria, a knight of the Order of Christ, who was a rich merchant.[1]

The commission was given to André Soares in 1754–1755, an architect already famous in the Braga region for his artistic and engineering projects.[1][2] Soares reformulate the style first introduced to Porto by Nasoni, basing his interpretations on French-German sketches, "one of the expressions more distinct and powerful of the European Rococo".[2][3] His work is characterized by the monumental nature of its forms, and for his use of natural elements in the decorative sculptures that permeate the design including the shells, jars, wreaths and garlands.[2][4] These elements show the influence of the Augsburg sketches, or the Frenchman Meissonier, among others. In the context of Portuguese art, André Soares was part of the end of the Baroque period, and beginning of the Rococo; his style used the structure of the Baroque, but the decorative style of the Rococo.[2][5] André Soares had worked on the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus and the Church of Santa Maria Madalena da Falperra, and the Raio Palace is seen as an extension of the "feative character of Falperra".[2][6]

In 1760, the staircase was painted.[1]

A century later, the residence was acquired by Miguel José Raio, then Viscount of São Lázaro (in 1867), thus, over time, becoming known as the Palace of Raio.[1][2][7]

The Escola Profissional de Recuperação do Património de Sintra (Professional School for Recuperation of Sintra Patrimony) intervened in 1993 to repair the doors and windows on this first floor.[1] The group was responsible for repairing the wood frames, cleaning of the stone from damage caused by humidity, completing moulds, installation of artificial stoneworks, reinforcing the structure with cement and reintegration of many of the sculptures.[1] Matos Sequeira, an archeologist, once referred to the facade as similar to a piece of furniture from the court of Louis XV.[1]


The building is located in the urban context of Braga, situated alongside the Hospital of São Marcos and the pavilion sheltering the Fountain of the Idol.[1]

It is a singular block, in the Baroque-style, constructed during the reign of King John V.[1] The palace is a two-storey buildings, consisting of several three-doors on the main floor, flanked by ornate framed windows, and the second-floor consisting of several windows and balconies.[1] The roof is topped by a veranda of balusters, with ornate vegetal pinnacles.

Over the main portal, deeply indented, is a sumptuous balcony of balusters, flanked by two decorative sculptures.[1] The lintel over this second-floor balcony is monolithic.[1] Its cornice, which is exceptionally recessed, and crowned by a balustrade consisting of six flaming sculptures, while four blazing amphorae on its flanks over an Ionic pilasters frame.[1]

The main floor is embellished by frames of carved granite, and the outline of the wrought iron balconies. Apart from the main entrance, are two lateral doorways (all which are painted in complimentary blue).[1] While the facade is covered in azulejo tile (and installed in the 19th century), the whole building is built from fine-grained granite.[1][2] On the landing, the azulejos were likely executed by Bartolomeu Antunes, owing to the different interpretations of the Rococo: one more traditional, from a workshop in Lisbon; and another, which predominates a northern agitation, from Braga.[2][8]

This residence is considered one of the most important public works of André Soares, presenting a facade that is profusely decorated, where the general symmetry contrasts with the asymmetries introduced by the windows.[2][9] This is particularly true of the central section, which is similar to the models utilized in the Church of Falperra and Municipal Council building of Braga: all which have similar traits.[2] The window over the main doorway connects a curved pediment, which reminds the viewer of the Church of Santa Maria Madalena, although highly projected from the rest of the facade.[2][10] As Vitor Serrão mentions in his critique, the it is across "the sensual and powerful sense of deconstruction that the openings almost announce the art of one Gaudi",[11] and the building "imposes a newness and display, within a sensual Rococo rhythm to the noble staircase like an inviting exotic figure."[2][12]

In the interior, is the noble staircase, with three arches and sculpture of a Turk, comparable to the four statues in the esplanade of the Church of Bom Jesus, who Smith attributes to André Soares (even if they were executed by masons José and António de Sousa.[2][13]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Sereno, Isabel; Leão, Miguel (1994), SIPA, ed., Palácio do Raio (v.PT010303420019) (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal: SIPA– Sistema de Informação para o Património Arquitectónico, retrieved 30 March 2012 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m IGESPAR, ed. (2011). "A fachada rocaille e escadaria do Palácio do Raio" (in Portuguese). Lisbon, Portugal: IGESPAR – Instituto de Gestão do Património Arquitectónico e Arqueológico. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  3. ^ Robert C. Smith (1973), p.496
  4. ^ Robert C. Smith (1968), p. 305
  5. ^ José Fernandes Pereira (1989), p.456
  6. ^ Robert C. Smith (1973), p. 502
  7. ^ Passos (1954), p. 85
  8. ^ Robert C. Smith (1973), p.504
  9. ^ Fernandes (1989), p. 456
  10. ^ Robert C. Smith (1973), p.503
  11. ^ Wohl (1993)
  12. ^ Vitor Serrão (2003), p. 272
  13. ^ Robert C. Smith (1973), p.505


  • Almeida, José António Ferreira de (1976), Tesouros de Portugal (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal 
  • Dionísio, Santana (1986), Guia de Portugal (in Portuguese), 4, Coimbra, Portugal 
  • Escola Profissional de Recuperação do Património de Sintra, ed. (January 1993), Relatórios da intervenção no portal e janelas do primeiro piso da fachada principal (in Portuguese), 4, Cacém, Portugal 
  • Aires-Barros, Luís (April 2001), As Rochas dos Monumentos Portugueses: tipologias e patologias (in Portuguese), II, Lisbon, Portugal 
  • "Santa Casa da Misericórdia", Diário do Minho (in Portuguese), 28 October 2006, p. 2 
  • Smith, Robert C. (1973), André Soares, arquitecto do Minho [André Soares, Architect of Minho] (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal 
  • Smith, Robert C. (1968), A Casa da Câmara de Braga (1753–1756)", Bracara Augusta (in Portuguese), Braga, Portugal 
  • Pereira, José Fermandes (1995), "O barroco do século XVIII", História da Arte Portuguesa (in Portuguese), 3, Lisbon, Portugal 
  • Serrão, Vitor (2003), O Barroco (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal