Sunday, 2 August 2009

Garden and Royal Park at Mafra 1760

[246] Let me now take my leave of the Father Librarian and enter the garden of the convent. It is pretty ample, considering that it has been in a manner cut out of the solid rock, and much of the earth in it transported from distant places. It has a large reservoir in the middle, besides several fountains. From some doors in the walls, of it, you may enter the royal park, enclosed likewise by a wall, which, they say, is fourteen or fifteen miles round. The little I saw of that park from the windows of the cells, far from being embellimed by that verdure which smiles the whole year round in the parks of England, has very much the appearance of a parch'd and rocky desart thinly scattered with trees.

But it is the building that deserves all one's attention. Few edifices in Europe (perhaps not ten) stand so majestick upon the face of the globe. The original architect was a German who had been bred at Rome; and a very dilated genius he [247] must have had to imagine so vast a fabrick and adjuft all the parts of it in so noble and convenient a manner as he has done. The first stone of it was laid in 1717, if I am rightly informed; and yet some of its internal parts are not quite finished, though more than six thousand workmen were constantly employed upon it during the first twenty years, besides numberless artists in Rome and other parts.

It is but lately that the number of those workmen has been considerably diminifhed. At present there are but two hundred.


No comments: