Sintra is a picturesque Portuguese town that is set amidst the pine-covered foothills of Portugal’s Serra de Sintra Mountains, near the capital of Lisbon. This slightly cooler climate enticed the nobility and elite of Portugal, who constructed exquisite palaces, extravagant residences and decorative gardens. The variety of fascinating historic buildings and beautiful scenery has established Sintra as the most popular day trip from Lisbon.
Contained within Sintra are two national palaces, an ancient ruined castle, multiple grand houses and a series of challenging hiking trails. The town itself is lined with pretty cobbled streets and traditional buildings filled with shops, cafes and restaurants, all with stunning vistas over the plains of central Portugal.
The Moorish- and Manueline-style Sintra National Palace is distinguished by its dramatic twin chimneys and elaborate tilework. The hilltop 19th-century Pena National Palace is known for its whimsical design and sweeping views.
The beautiful Pena Palace is the standout monument of Sintra. This 19th century palace was designed by a king who was passionate about the arts and wished his royal retreat to reflect that of an opera. The exterior is painted vivid colours, with decorative towers and battlements and statues of mythological creatures. The interior of the palace is as equally fascinating, as it has been restored to how it was left in 1910 when the Portuguese nobility fled from Portugal with the fall of the monarchy. Queen Amelia spent her last night in Portugal in the Pena Palace before leaving in exile. [More photographs and retails on the Pena Palace will be in our next blog post.]
The westernmost point of the European continent was considered in antiquity to be the place where “the land ends and the sea begins” – the Cabo da Roca is one of the most spectacular locations in the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park. Its vertical cliffs rise up around 100 m above sea level, offering spectacular landscapes. The Sintra-Cascais Natural Park is one of the 13 Natural Parks of Portugal. While only established in 1994 as a Natural Park by the Portuguese Government, it has been protected since 1981.