National Monument

The Royal Montejunto Ice Factory accompanied a radical change in consumption habits in Portugal as well as the industrial transformation of the country from the mid-nineteenth century onwards.
This pre-industrial structure was built to overcome the difficulties of regularly supplying ice to the Royal House and the city of Lisbon. Together with the Coentral complex, in Serra da Lousã, it was an alternative to the process used to obtain ice in the 17th and 18th centuries, which was based on collecting snow accumulated in wells in Serra da Estrela.
Built in the first half of the 18th century, the Serra de Montejunto Ice Factory was acquired and rebuilt in 1782 by the Royal House’s chief snow trader, Julião Pereira de Castro. Dedicated to the manufacture of natural ice – a rarity at the time – it remained active until the end of the 19th century. 

This pre-industrial structure is divided into three distinct areas:

The engineering system for capturing and storing water: wells, a waterwheel and a reservoir.

The set of shallow freezing tanks, sequentially arranged so that water circulates between them and freezes overnight.

The building for ice production, conservation and distribution, where it was compacted, cut, stored in silos and finally shipped to Lisbon, supplying the Royal House, the best cafes and even hospitals.

The process of manufacturing natural ice combined techniques associated with hydraulics and the climate conditions of Serra de Montejunto. On the coldest days, the concentration of water in the tanks and the low temperatures allowed the formation of ice plaques, which were later stored in silos waiting to be cut and packed. Since Montejunto is only 40 kilometres from Lisbon, it was possible to transport the ice, in blocks, to the capital, and supply the court, some cafes and Hospital de Todos os Santos.

The Royal Montejunto Ice Factory is a unique pre-industrial complex in both Portugal and internationally. It was classified as a National Monument in 1997.

A chronology of ice
The dates of ice production and trade

1218: The construction, in Serra de Montejunto, of Ermida de Santa Maria das Neves, around which the first monks of the Dominican Order gathered to establish a reclusive convent. This project was transferred to Santarém.
1619: Cristovão Soares, Secretary of State, recommends that, on the arrival of Filipe II to Portugal, there be an abundance of supplies in Lisbon.
1619: Given the visit of Filipe II to Portugal, the snow trader Paulo Domingues signed a contract for four loads of snow (24 arrobas or 360 kilos) to supply the Royal House. Snow was sold at Terreiro do Paço and on the doorstep of Santa Catarina.
1623: The snow trader of the court of Castile, Marco António Cacilano or Cassiliano, signed a contract to supply Portugal’s maritime areas, with exclusive rights for 15 years, at 10 réis* by the pound (arrátel).
* Former currency.
1699: The Italian João Baptista Rossati made a petition to build a factory and devices for the conservation of ice during the summer, and asked for the privilege to carry out this business between January 1, 1700, and January 1, 1720, with a monopoly on this manufacture, except for the snow in Serra da Estrela.
1700: The result of the petition was favourable to João Baptista Rossati, and a charter was issued for the establishment of the ice factory, with the techniques that he intended to develop, for a period of twenty years.
1717: The office of Royal snow trader was created, with Eugénio da Cunha, son of Domingos da Cunha, being granted the concession to supply snow at 50 réis by the pound (arrátel).
1724: António Almeida Lobrão was appointed as the second snow trader of the Royal House, without housing or salary, but with all the other privileges of court officials.
1726: Ordinance of Secretary of State Diogo de Mendonça Corte Real, determined by the royal resolution of December 15, in which he ordered the Paços da Ribeira storekeeper to pay the treasurer of the Senate Chamber of Lisbon’s two cities (eastern and western) 32000 réis in each year, for the rental of the store «granted to the said gentleman by the same senate, under the Terreiro do Paço balconies, for stocking snow».
1730-1733: Crisis in the supply of snow in Lisbon.
1741: João Rose and Pedro Francalanza invested 40,000 or 45,000 cruzados* in the construction of a snow factory in Serra de Montejunto. The two snow traders partnered with a snow trader of the Royal House, the Frenchman Trofimo Paillete, then at the service of King João V, to enable the investment in the factory’s construction and organization.
* Old Portuguese gold or silver coins.
1741: Trofimo Paillete asked for the exclusive privilege to provide Lisbon with snow for twenty years, supplying the Royal House at 30 réis by the pound (arrátel) and the public at 40 réis. He spoke about building warehouses as well as transportation. Given the low price of snow, he also requested exemption, from all imports and sales, of any duties, payments, tenths, tolls and handling, during the same twenty years.
1742: A royal resolution granted Trofimo Pailleta the privilege to supply snow from Serra da Estrela, in the usual terms, so that there would be no shortage in Lisbon, at 40 réis by the pound (arrátel).
1744: Trofimo Paillete cheated his partners, João Rose and Pedro Francalanza, foreigners and businessmen in Lisbon. Paillete fled the country.
1748: A request by João Rose and Pedro Francalanza, informing about the capital invested in works in the Serra de Montejunto factory, in the amount of 16,000 réis (40,000 cruzados), to supply snow to the Royal Palace in abundance and on time.
1748: While visiting Serra de Montejunto to carry out a private investigation regarding the Dominican convent in that mountain range, Carlos Mardel (1696-1763) examined the snow factory owned by João Rose and Pedro Francalanza.
1748: At the request of João Rose and Pedro Francalanza, Carlos Mardel made a report on the snow factory in Serra de Montejunto. Mardel mentioned that the factory needed to be enlarged and that the works continued, with more capital being invested and 80 to 100 men working in its construction.
1750: A request made by D. Catarina Ricart to have, in Lisbon, snow houses all year round at 30 réis by the pound, giving an arroba (15 kilos) free of charge, each day, to Hospital de Todos os Santos, and asking for a privilege of ten years in the snow contract.
1750: A consultation of the Lisbon Chamber with the king, with respect to the snow business, involving the traders João Rose, Pedro Francalanza and D. Catarina Ricart. The Chamber informed that the snow contract with the first two should be accepted, resulting in their election, due to their owning ice tanks and wells in both Serra de Montejunto and Estrela, as well as having more experience than D. Catarina Ricart. The royal resolution, however, went in favour of D. Catarina Ricart.
1753: Undocumented news of privileges, similar to those enjoyed by D. Catarina Ricart, granted by the king to Julião Pereira de Castro.
1757: A charter by King José I granted the position of Royal snow trader to Julião Pereira de Castro, born in Santo André de Lourido, Salvaterra do Miño, province of Pontevedra, Galicia.
1782: The year in which, by the hand of businessman Julião Pereira de Castro, who had acquired it, the ice factory was expanded and saw a new industrial strength.
1782: An advertisement for Casa da Neve, a liquor store in Terreiro do Paço, published in Gazeta de Lisboa. Certain authors say that it was owned by Julião Pereira de Castro.
1797: Julião Pereira de Castro’s grandson, Martinho Bartolomeu Rodrigues, is born. 
1810: Martinho Rodrigues de Carvalho, son-in-law of Julião Pereira de Castro, was Coentral’s snow contractor for Lisbon and the Royal House. The transfer of the contract took place within the family. Pereira de Castro probably died by this time.
1850: Invention of the refrigerator, which determined the loss of relevance of the ice trade and the decline of the snow factory, which, however, only closed its doors definitively decades later.
1881: Martinho Bartolomeu Rodrigues, grandson of Julião Pereira de Castro, dies. By will, Augusto Frederico Rodrigues Lima is the new owner of the Montejunto snow factory.
1885: Closure of the snow factory at Serra de Montejunto.
1930: Decree of expropriation for public utility of Quinta da Serra.
1956: The construction of military installations destroyed part of the abandoned ruins of the snow factory, namely a warehouse and a set of freezing tanks.
1985: An official letter from Associação de Estudo e Defesa do Património Cultural e Natural de Alenquer calls for attention to the ruins of the Montejunto snow factory.
1986: Comissão Instaladora da Associação de Defesa do Património do Cadaval asked for the property to be classified. The first works for the recovery of the snow factory begin.
1997: Classification of Quinta da Serra’s ruins, designated as Royal Ice Factory, as a National Monument.