Palacio Foz, or Foz Palace, is an 18th century structure with all of the Baroque ornate details you’d expect to see: grand staircases, Corinthian columns, many paintings, etc. Inside the palace is the Hall of Mirrors, which is open to the public for free concerts every Monday evening at 6:00 p.m., as of this writing. Each week there is a different kind of performance.
It was difficult to find much information about these free shows before we went during our Lisbon stay. But I’m glad I kept searching because we had such a good time on our initial visit, we returned the following Monday evening.
The first time we saw two string players who are traveling all over Europe to give free shows, and they were excellent. The duo – called ICstrings – played with two local violinists from Lisbon for part of their show to promote how music can bring people together in despite recent turmoil in Europe. The musicians played an interesting range of music from classical to modern. The second time we went to the Hall of Mirrors, we saw a gifted pianist from Brazil named Jose Carlos Vasconcellos. Listening to his classical, dramatic performance put me in a happy zone.
There are different performers each week, although it seems a majority are classical artists. Check the official palace website for schedule information here. Note: as of this writing, the official site is only in Portuguese, though it says “coming soon” on the English language link. Also, the site is better viewed from a computer.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. We arrived about 5:00 p.m. for the first show with ICstrings, and I’m glad we did. The line quickly grew and some people were turned away because seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis. The half-hour wait outside on the queue went by quickly, because in typical Tedly fashion, he goofed around with a small group of women ahead of us.
These free concerts seem to be more popular with locals than with tourists. Perhaps that is a reason there are not as many pictures of the Hall of Mirrors online as other beautiful sites in Lisbon. Here are some inside images of the Hall and the area just outside of it, starting with a panorama.
Final note on Foz Palace
Visitors can tour Palacio Foz with advance arrangements and a fee. We did not take any official tours, so we only saw the Hall of Mirrors and the stairway and galley leading to the hall. There are a few areas in the front of the palace that have been converted for modern use, such as a Lisbon visitor center, which is separate from any tour or free concerts run by the palace.
A few words about ICstrings
“Europe has its problems, and we hope to connect people with music.”
And with that, ICstrings made beautiful music. The duo had a viola and a cello, for their first song, and a song in the middle of the show. For all other songs they played with two violinists from Lisbon. My heart and soul felt moved and lightened by their music.
From their website: Playing on their 250 year old master instruments, as well as their cutting-edge carbon instruments, ICstrings is bridging the gap between past and future. The goal of ICstrings is to make everyone realize the joy and passion music can bring to their lives.
At each stop, ICstrings plays with local musicians for some or most of the concert to demonstrate how music can bring people together. In the Hall of Mirrors, they played a range of classical music I’ve never heard (I hardly know the genre), and also contemporary songs from musicians such as ABBA and John Lennon.
They end their show with John Lennon’s Imagine. “We will make a video of John Lennons IMAGINE together with artists from each country to connect all of them in one song,” says their website. Video cameras around the hall recorded the entire show.
However, the concert we saw in Lisbon won’t be on that video of Imagine. After the concert, someone broke into their van and stole their equipment — so all video from their Lisbon performance is gone. Their touring van was parked in a lot with video surveillance, but the cameras weren’t working that night, apparently.
Yes, Europe sure does have its problems. Indeed, so does all of humanity.
While that ending to the their Lisbon trip sucked, they made the best of it and held an impromptu concert just outside Lisbon a few nights later. From what I can tell from their Instagram account, they didn’t let the incident ruin the rest of their time in beautiful Portugal. It also seems their instruments were spared from the burglary.
Visit the official ICstrings website here. If you ever come across this fine duo, I highly recommend you see them perform.