The glorious Palácio de Cristal that once stood in the Invicta was inaugurated 154 years ago

  • Article



Filipa Brito

This very day, 154 years ago, the Palácio de Cristal, in Porto, designed by the English architect Thomas Dillen Jones, was inaugurated to host the International Exhibition of 1865, called the "Exposição Internacional do Porto".

The Palácio de Cristal was modelled on the building of the same name, The Crystal Palace in London. The British architect used building materials such as iron, granite and glass. At 150 meters long and 72 meters wide, the principal structure was divided into three naves.

Thus, the Invicta became more beautiful to house the 1865 world fair. The exhibition was inaugurated on 18 September, by the Portuguese king Luís I and his consort Maria Pia of Savoy. It was the first world fair to be held on the Iberian Peninsula.

The event was organised by the Porto Industrial Association (Associação Industrial Portuense), and the exhibition displayed industrial and trade innovations from various areas, namely primary materials, machinery, manufacture and fine arts.

The "Exposição Internacional do Porto" included 3,139 exhibitors, of which 499 were French, 265 German, 107 British, 89 Belgian, 62 Brazilian, 24 Spanish, 16 Danish as well as various other representatives from Russia, the Netherlands, Turkey, the United States and Japan. This exhibition would be on show till January 1866. The event was deemed to be a remarkable success both to the city of Porto and for Portugal.

The Palácio de Cristal was surrounded by the still existing and recently renovated Gardens of Palácio de Cristal, designed by German landscape architect Émile David. Since then, it is one of the most sought for sites in Porto, with splendid viewpoints overlooking the river Douro, near the Chapel of Carlos Alberto, commissioned in 1850, by the Princess Augusta de Montléart, step sister of King Charles Albert of Sardinia, who was in exile in Porto or a nice walk under the Linden Avenues, the 'Avenida das Tílias', which currently hosts Porto Book Fair. The Book Fair runs till 22 September.

The Palácio de Cristal housed many other exhibitions, namely the "Exposição das Rosas", in 1879, the "Exposição Agrícola", in 1903 and the "Exposição Colonial", in 1934.

The building was demolished and replaced by the Rosa Mota Sports Pavilion, in 1951.