We bought the combined ticket to see the five main attractions in the Sintra area and one other, the Palace in Queluz. The other five were the Pena Palace, the Moors' Castle, the Palace of Sintra itself (now a museum), Montseate, and the Capuchin Monastery. Queluz, which is not at all near the others, is the least attractive of the lot by a long chalk, I think. It is Grand, and all that; but really it's mainly an endless succession of rooms with baroque furniture, mirrors, portraits, Chinese vases, and so on and on. After about the fifteenth room, I felt that in was in some sort of Purgatorio and longed to be released into the gardens. The gardens, however, are dull. They are formal knot gardens of low box hedging, with walkways here and there out among trees into areas largely untended. The one really arresting, bizarre thing is a channel for a little stream which is entirely lined with blue-tiled scenes. The stream itself is a fast-flowing little thing, but it has been channelled into a trench maybe twenty feet wide and twelve feet deep whose walls, as I say, are entirely lined with tiles.
The whole place smacks of decadence and a defunct aesthetic. Go to the 'Capuchos' (the Capuchin Monastery) for something really attractive and human, and in a lovely setting, too. The Montesate gardens (and Palace) were also wonderful. Third prize goes to the Moors' Castle, or perhaps the Sintra Palace/Museum. The Moors' Castle is empty, of course -- it is just a shell, with battlements you can circumambulate. But what a fantastic setting!!
The heavy 19th C. Stuff stuffing the Pena Palace leaves me cold, but the gardens and the setting are great, and the palace is certainly 'really something,' as people will say. It's a grandiose Victorian 'folly,' by and large. If you go, and if you are in the area you really must!, don't miss the displays relating to the stained glass. There are some Germanic pieces of breathtaking beauty, and you can see them up close.
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