When I was in Lisbon last week, one of my MUST SEES was Pena Palace in Sintra. This colourful castle caught my attention somewhere last year and when I finally booked my plane tickets to Lisbon, I added one additional day just for this trip. I actually wanted to see this fairytale palace with my own eyes… Because when you are looking at the pictures, you can stare at them for hours and still you necessarily don´t believe this place might really exist somewhere else than just in Disney movies. And it does, and here I wrote some notes about it. Enjoy it and be sure to put this place on your travel list! 😉
Starting the visit in Pena Park
The Palace was built on a top of the highest peaks of Serra de Sintra and is surrounded by a beautiful park which you shouldn´t miss once visiting Pena Palace. As the park is enormous and quite hilly, most of the time you go up and down which might be a good physical exercise. If you are not fit, you can consider taking a bus that takes you directly to the Palace and to some points of interest in the park.
But if you are fit and fancy having a lovely walk in the nature full of both native and exotic trees, you are good here! I noticed many interesting plants, such as chestnut tree from the Azores, British Oaks, giant sequoia from California, some trees from Mexico and Guatemala, magnolias, and many other plants from New Zealand and South America. When King Ferdinand was building the Pena Palace, he ordered trees and plants from 4 corners of the world to have more exotic feel in the park. It smells just wonderful here!
The park is composed of several gardens and except amazing flora, you´ll find here some decorative buildings, viewpoints, ponds, and fountains. There are also plenty of hidden paths that tempted me to discover them and so I easily spent 2 hours in the park and I would have even stayed longer if I was not starving…
The Pena Palace can be viewed from some places in the park. Among the best views of the Pena Palace belong for the sure the Station of Cross (Cruz Alta), which is the highest peak of Serra de Sintra (529 m) or the St. Catherine’s Heights, favourite view of Queen Amelia where the Queen’s Throne is carved into the rock.
Visiting Pena Palace
One of the Portuguese wonders and a pearl of Portuguese romanticism, the Pena Palace, was built in the 19th century on a place where an abandoned 16th-century Hieronymite monastery of Our Lady of Pena used to stand. Kind Ferdinand II basically restored the former monastery to a castle-like residence by enlarging the rooms and built a new wing with even larger rooms. The works took over 20 years and it was evident that Kind Ferdinand was influenced by German romanticism and maybe he even got inspired by some of the German castles.
The Pena Palace is a mixture of Portuguese romanticism, Manueline and Moorish architectural style. Although for some people, this place is a kitsch, I found it simply amazing and definitely not boring! All the vivid colours of the palace make such a nice contrast with the blue sky (if you are lucky when visiting Pena Palace) and the greens around.
As the Palace was built on the top of the highest peaks of Sintra, so you can have some nice views over the region from the palace. At some points, the Castle of Moors is nicely visible too.
King Ferdinand II was an art lover and this place reflects his personality both outside and inside – the interior is pretty amazing too.
The village of Sintra is a lovely residential town lying at the foot of the Serra de Sintra near Lisbon. Being listed as a UNESCO Wolrd-Heritage Site since 1995, there is so much to see in the town. Sintra is a perfect day trip from Lisbon, not only for those of us with romantic soul! After the major attractions which are the National Palace (on the below picture), Pena Palace, and the Castle of Moors, there is also a nice historical centre, beautiful parks and decorative gardens, museums, but also beaches!
Even if you only pass by heading to Pena Palace or other places of interest, have at least a short stroll in the cobbled streets with traditional shops and café’s in the historical centre. I somehow regret not having seen more of the town in my tight schedule, but this is another reason to come back…
One thing you shouldn´t miss when visiting Sintra, is to taste delicious “queijadas de Sintra“. These mini cheese tarts are so good and you can have them for example in a small cafe called Piriquita – Antiga Fábrica de Queijadas.
How to get to Pena Palace by public transport from Lisbon
Take a train from Rossio station direction Sintra. The return ticket costs about 5 euros and the train leaves every 30-40 minutes. Then from the train station in Sintra, you will need to walk 5-10 minutes to reach the centre where you can either stroll the streets of the historical city centre or visit the National Palace.
If you plan directly visiting Pena Palace and the Moors castle, it is another 50 minutes of walk up the busy road. You can also take a bus 434 for a small fee, but be aware of long waiting queues, especially if you go later than early morning. But then if you prefer not to wait, just take a tuk-tuk. It costs only +/- 5 euros and if you have a nice talkative driver, it is more fun. 🙂
So this was my trip to Pena Palace and Sintra. Tell me, did you go to other places in Sintra, what was your favourite place here?
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