The Mello of Serpa (“the Ficalho”)


The family Mello arrived to Serpa in the 1400s, when João de Mello was appointed by King João I as protector of this section of the border with Spain, and later as alcaide-mor (mayor) of Serpa. It is believed that he owned primitive buildings in the wall of Serpa, that later in the 17th century gave rise to the Palácio Ficalho.

And yet, while some Mello lived here, others lived far away. From Malacca to Nagasaki (Roque de Mello, captain general and governor of Malacca), from Spain (Guiomar de Mello, maid of honour of Isabel, Queen of Spain and Empress) to Rio de Janeiro (Pedro de Mello, governor of the captaincy of Rio de Janeiro), Mellos have travelled far and wide. All these
and many others, who became notable in politics, literature, and botany, are presented to those who visit the palace.

Meanwhile, we open the family archive to those interested in investigating this entire universe. There are several chapters in the history of Mello’s lineage in Serpa (also known as “the Ficalho”) that are yet to be written. Little is known, for example, about the relationship between this family and the Portuguese colonial empire. It is time to bring light into places in 
history that have thus far remained in shadow, and we encourage historians to make use of the treasures that the Palácio Ficalho house.