Palácio Velho (Old Palace)

Palácio Velho (Old Palace)

Benguela, Benguela, Angola

Housing

The remarkable building of the so-called Old Palace is a work characteristic of residential architecture in the 17th and 18th centuries. Facing the sea on the coastal road, it still features, after several demolitions and reconstructions, the elegant double staircase connected to the portico at the back, as well as the system of four multiple roofs – a precious testimony of residential architecture in Angola in the Modern Age. It is now a rare example of a two-storey house, made of adobe with a staircase and arcades at the back of the building, located on the former Street of Praia. Built in the 18th century, it was purchased by the State around 1849-1859 to serve as the residence of the governor. In bad condition from 1870, the upper floor was demolished in 1873. The ground floor was restored in the 1890s and the first floor in 1929. It served successively as the seat of several public services (the Financial Office, the Post Office, the first High School, the Intermediate Level School), and it is now the Comandante Chipenda School. It was acknowledged as a Building of Public Interest on the 8th of February 1950. According to Fernando Batalha, it is the “most remarkable work of old architecture still existing in Benguela and the single example of a typical two-storey (sobrado) house, following the traditional spirit of Portuguese architecture”.

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