Olá, dear travel-tourists, Portugal-preferrer, Sintra-seekers, Lisbon-lovers and warmly welcomed world-wanderers. On our summer Portugal Road Trip, we have already been able to discover Lisbon a bit more. And today we will have a look at all the things to see in Sintra.
To clarify perhaps the most important question: WHAT is Sintra? In a nutshell its a small village very close to the Portuguese capital Lisbon, a little further west.
The region around Sintra is almost a haven of sights. For a long time, this was very popular with nobility and bourgeoisie. Because of this a variety of villas, mansions and castles with a breathtaking view over much of western Portugal were built in this area.
Reason enough for us to take a closer look. So – let’s go to Sintra.
The history of Sintra
Sintra was used to be a royal summer residence for a long time. Numerous palaces, mansions, parks and woodlands are united here in a small space. However, Sintras’ original story is much older.
Traces of human settlements dating back to the Paleolithic Age were found. Almost throughout all later epochs and ages, through the Neolithic Age to the Copper and Bronze Age, there are finds, tombs and more.
In the relatively recent history, there were some bitter battles between the Moors and Christians around the region. In the year 711, the Moors conquered large parts and the records mention Xintara as an important place in this area.
In 1147, the first king of Portugal Dom Afonso Henriques then conquered the region completely.
In the following centuries, numerous monasteries were created primarily because of the fertile soil. Only the Black Death, the plague, which swept from 1348 on through large parts of Europe also reached Sintra.
Another dramatic event was the massive earthquake in Lisbon in 1755, which also caused severe destruction in Sintra.
Things to see in Sintra
For most of Portugal’s tourists, Sintra is probably most ideal to combine with a stay in Lisbon.
The immediate proximity, easy accessibility and the extreme compactness of sights in one place make Sintra the ideal day or multi-day trip. For the sake of clarity, let’s take a look at all the things to see in Sintra:
- Palácio Nacional de Sintra (also called Paço Real or Palácio da Vila, former royal palace)
- Castelo dos Mouros (Ruin of a castle from the 8./9. century)
- Palácio Nacional da Pena (Castle built on the ruins of a monastery)
- Parque de Pena (beautiful park and woodland around the Palacio Nacional da Pena)
- Convento dos Capuchos (former monastery of the Capuchins 5 km southwest of Sintra)
- Palácio de Monserrate (Villa in Sintra, UNESCO World Heritage)
- Quinta da Regaleira (Villa and estate in Sintra, consists of palace, lakes, fountains, tunnels, parks and more.)
- Igreja do São Martinho (Catholic church in Sintra)
- Mongrel dome of Monge (roundish chamber grave from the Copper Age on the Monge, highest mountain of the Serra de Sintra)
- Sítio arqueológico de Colaride (Roman archaeological site)
- Villa romana da Granja dos Serrões in Montelavar
The Pena Palace
As you can see, there is enough program for at least three days. Today we take a closer look at the Palácio Nacional da Pena, as it is commonly one of the most evocative and imposing things to see in Sintra.
The Palácio Nacional da Pena is considered by many to be a fairytale castle. Perched high on a mountain in 1840, the titular King Ferdinand II erected this splendid building on the walls of the old Jeronimos Monastery.
Ferdinand was considered a lover of art, music and literature. His express wish was that the Pena Palace visualized an opera.
Among other things, the palace is characterized by the fact that various elements and epochs come together in its construction.
Neo-renaissance, Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, as well as Moorish influences are reflected in the castle. Bright colors radiate an inviting and friendly atmosphere from afar.
Incidentally, “Pena” means grief in Portuguese, and the name is often misleadingly derived from it. It is true that the name comes from the nearby rock massif Penedo.
The interior of the Pena Palace
The Pena Palace is a feast for the eyes both inside and out. Inside you will discover elements from the Neo-Baroque, as well as Neo-Rococo.
Almost the entire interior is complete and very well preserved. Most of the rooms are open to visitors. In particular, the ballroom, as well as the chapel are considered a special feast for the eyes.
Nevertheless, there is a highlight to discover in almost every corner. Partly exuberant splendor leaves the visitor awestruck and one tries to imagine what life must have been like here at Pena Palace.
The Pena Palace is considered to be one of the highlights of all the things to see in Sintra.
However, this also means that in the summer it is full of tourists. Namely, F-U-L-L.
It is important to take enough time and, above all, patience. Long queues, sometimes impatient and jostling visitors can make the visit even a small challenge. Also you do not really have individual discovery options.
It is rather an endless queue squeezed through the premises. Take a photo, move on.
But that should not stop you from booking a visit to Sintra and especially to the Pena Palace, because all of this is really worth it.
Tickets are best bought online before, which saves already quite a lot of time.
Admission costs 14 EUR (around $17) per person.
The trip is best planned directly for the morning or afternoon. Otherwise, the likelihood is high of arriving at the same time as the numerous tourist buses. By the way, a Cafe at the top of the terrace offers a selection of food and drinks. Especially drinks are very welcome after a long tour of discovery in the summer heat of Portugal.
Tip: On the terrace are again some very nice photo opportunities, so worth a quick stop twice.
Thats it from the Pena Palace! On our Road Trip Portugal 2017 we are next time on the way to Sagres, the westernmost point of Europe. Delicious bratwurst included.
Until then greets warmly your Pena Palace Pro Hendrik
P.S. Take a look at all photos in peace and here in our gallery.