Carrilhões do Convento de Mafra - Mafra, Portugal
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member manchanegra
N 38° 56.211 W 009° 19.639
29S E 471631 N 4309819
Quick Description: Built in 1730, Mafra Convent Carillons are between the oldest in Europe.
Location: Lisboa, Portugal
Date Posted: 4/24/2009 4:00:46 AM
Waymark Code: WM68MP
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Team Farkle 7
Views: 31

Long Description:
Mafra Convent Carillons are between the oldest in Europe. They were built in 1730 in Antwerp and Liege, Belgium by command of D. João V (John V), The King of Portugal that finding the price cheap, ordered two of them.
Each Tower has 57 bells (not all are conected to the carillon). The biggest one weight´s around 10 tons and the whole of them weight over 200 tons.
The Carillon of the North Tower was built in Liège by Nicolas Levache and the one in the South Tower in Antwerp by Willelm Witlockx.
The Carillon can be played manually by the "carrilhanista" (carillonneur in Portuguese) using the keyboard (hands and feet) or mecanically using a mechanism connected to the tower clocks and composed by 2 large drums. Imagine a big music box, were a wheel with metallic anchors runs trough a keyboard and plays the songs represented there.
The two sistems are independent but use the same bells.
Today, only the South tower is operational. The two sistems were totaly repaired by Dutch specialists (manual in 1987 and the mechanic in 1993).
Every Sunday at 16h there are concerts played by Portuguese Carillonneur´s (Classical, Erudite, Popular Portuguese Music, Fado and music composed for carillon´s)

Some curious facts around the carillon.
The Convent in Mafra was built after a promisse the King made to God.
One of the biggest problems a King could face was his sucession. When the king made his promisse he had been Married for 3 years, but, even trying harder there was no heir yet.
After trying every possible means without sucess the King decided to come down from his pedestal (in the XVIII century, this man was one of the most powerfull Monarchs in the world, in fact, he owned half it) and decided to talk to God.
He promissed that if God would give him a son he would built a convent for the Franciscans in Mafra.
Guess what? It worked! A year hadn´t passed yet and the Queen was pregnant and the sucessor was born.
And, because a promiss is to keep, the works began in 1717.
Well, by that time everybody was happy. The King had an Heir, the Franciscan were having a new convent and the King even offered himself a trip to the Flanders Region (today being part of France, Belgium and Netherlands) to check close how the Portuguese business were going.
And it´s there where he hears the Carillon for the first time.
"What´s this?" - he asked.
"That´s music, played with bells in a carillon" someone told him.
Story goes that he liked so much that he wanted to know right away how much it would cost.
"400 contos" someone told him (that would be 400.000 Portuguese Reais, circa 2000 Euros / 2600 US Dolars). This amount was a fortune at that time, but the King answered imediatly: "I never supposed it was so cheap. We´ll take two!"

The carillon was ordered to Melchior of Haze, the best carillon builder of Flanders but it would be built by Willelm Witlockx. This is the one placed in the South Tower of Mafra. The North Tower one doesn´t have the same quality.

When the bell´s arrived in Lisbon harbour it was an happening. By the size (they are all diferent) and by the quantity.
The bells were then taken to Mafra in Ox Carts under an heavy millitary escort. I believe that this escort was more make a statement about the importance of this ocasion than to prevent theft. Who in is right mind would remember to steal a 10 ton Bell?

Sources: Wikipedia,,,
Palácio Nacional de Mafra
Mafra, Lisboa Portugal

Who controls the carillon?: Palace and Convent of Mafra - National Monument

Number of bells: 92

Schedule of regular public performances:
Every Sunday at 16h

Year of construction: 01/01/1730

Structure: Part of the Mafra Palace and Conven

Location web page: [Web Link]

Visit Instructions:
An original photograph of the carillon is required. One of you and your crew doing your very best imitation of Quasimodo and/or Esmeralda will be most appreciated.
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