The corner stone was unveiled in 1900 by king Carlos I on the site of the former convent S. Bento de Avé Maria (Saint Benedict of Hail Mary). The initial project was designed by architect Marques da Silva with its external lines demonstrating then contemporary French influences.
Well worth a visit is the huge entrance hall covered with some twenty thousand pictorial tiles. The work of Jorge Colaço, they feature historical and ethnographic images. The coloured frieze running around the entire atrium details various forms of transport in chronological order from the earliest times through to the appearance of the train. Below, great panels depict scenes from the history of Portugal.
On the northern wall, the upper panel depicts a scene from the Valdevez Archery Tournament while below there is a greeting from Egas Moniz. On the southern wall, the upper panel features the royal entry of João I into Oporto, with his bride, Philippa of Lancaster, and the lower scenes from the Ceuta Chronicles. Other small panels show aspects of regional life.