The Royal Palace on the Ice Route

«At Terreiro do Paço there is a long jetty with stairs. At Alfândega you see docks and stairs. […] In front of the Royal House in Ribeira there are also docks and stairs. Next, there is the shipyard, and downwards, a recessed dock, lined with quay walls, but open at the front, and with no breakwater closing it off on the Tagus side.»
[Adolfo Loureiro, The Maritime Ports of Portugal and its Adjacent Islands, 1906]
From the 17th century onwards, there is a growing demand for ice in Europe, whether for refreshments, snowy drinks and ice cream, or for medicinal use. The Royal Montejunto Ice Factory accompanied this transformation in consumption habits in Portugal, having been built precisely to overcome the difficulties of regularly supplying ice to the Royal House and the city of Lisbon. In Portugal, ice was an almost exclusive privilege of the Court for more than a hundred years, as large part of the Royal Factory’s production was destined for it. At the beginning of summer, this precious product went down Serra de Montejunto until Vala do Carregado, where it was transferred to the «snow boats», which crossed the Tagus and docked at Terreiro do Paço, in Lisbon. At the end of this twelve-hour journey, the ice was promptly sent to the warehouse at Casa da Neve (which has become the iconic Café Martinho da Arcada) and, from there, to the Royal Palace. Incidentally, King José I issued a royal charter giving priority to the landing of ice in case of excess river traffic on the Tagus.