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Pass By: Castelo dos Mouros, Estrada da Pena Parque de Monserrate, Sintra 2710-609 Portugal
Castelo dos Mouros - Sintra
Winding over two ridges of the Serra de Sintra, the Moorish Castle dates back to the early days of the Moorish occupation of the Peninsula - the 8th Century.
After various attempts it was definitively taken by Dom Afonso Henriques in 1147, and there was built the first Christian Chapel of the borough, dedicated to São Pedro de Penaferrim.
In the romantic period, about 1860, the walls were restored under the supervision of Dom Fernando II, husband of Dona Maria II, who afforested the surrounding areas, and gave the old medieval ruins a new dignity. Of note are the Moorish Cistern in the interior, and the so-called Royal Tower.
Located about 3.5 km from the historical centre of Sintra.
Stop At: Park and National Palace of Pena, Estrada da Pena, Sintra 2710-609 Portugal
Palácio Nacional da Pena
Museums and Palaces
Pena National Palace
The fantastic Palácio da Pena is one of the best examples of 19th-century Romantic revivalism in Portugal.
Situated at the top of the Monte da Pena, the palace was built on the site of an old monastery belonging to the Order of St. Jerome. It was the fruit of the imagination of Dom Fernando of Saxe Coburg-Gotha, who married the queen Dona Maria II in 1836. After falling in love with Sintra, he decided to buy the convent and the surrounding land to build a summer palace for the royal family.
The king consort adopted Portuguese architectural and decorative forms for the palace, which he built according to the revivalist taste (neo-Gothic, neo-Manueline, neo-Islamic, neo-Renaissance), and, in the surrounding area, he decided to make a magnificent woodland park in the English style, with a wide variety of exotic tree species.
The interior of the palace is still decorated according to the tastes of the kings and queens who lived there, and its great highlight is the chapel, where it is still possible to see a magnificent alabaster altarpiece attributed to Nicolau Chanterenne (one of the architects of the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, in Lisbon). Special reference should also be made to the painting of the walls with a trompe l’oeil effect and the azulejos.
A restaurant has now been installed in one of the wings of the palace, with a terrace that offers a beautiful panoramic view over the Serra de Sintra and the coast.
Duration: 2 hours
Stop At: Centro Historico de Sintra, Sintra 2710-616 Portugal
In the historical center of the romantic village of Sintra, (Portugal), many buildings and vestiges of various periods and cultural movements remain. It encompasses a diverse area of diverse heritage, including palaces, castles, farms and parks with different classifications. From municipal heritage to World Heritage, duly classified by UNESCO.
Duration: 30 minutes
Pass By: Quinta da Regaleira, Rua Barbosa do Bocage, Sintra 2710-567 Portugal
Palácio e Quinta da Regaleira
Museums and Palaces
Very close to the historic centre of Sintra is Quinta Regaleira, one of the town’s most enigmatic sights.
The palace of Quinta da Regaleira was built in the early 20th century by the millionaire António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro (1848-1920), who managed to realise one of his dreams here with the help of the scenographic architect Luigi Manini (1848-1936). Surrounded by lush green vegetation, the Palácio da Regaleira is a fascinating discovery.
The palace was built in a Romantic revivalist style, in an imitation of Gothic, Manueline and Renaissance architectural and decorative forms, mixed with a mythical and esoteric symbolism.
A special mention is reserved for the Capela da Santíssima Trindade (Chapel of the Holy Trinity), where visitors can descend via a spiral staircase into the crypt to discover the monumental initiation well that, at the bottom, leads via a grotto to a surprising lake hidden in the middle of the gardens.
Pass By: Palacio de Monserrate, R. Visc. de Monserrate, Sintra 2710-591 Portugal
Palácio e Parque de Monserrate
Museums and Palaces
Park and Palace of Monserrate
This fantastic Romantic park was created by William Beckford, who fell in love with the Serra de Sintra.
The park and palace of Monserrate, formerly a farm with fruit orchards and crop fields, were first imagined by Gerard DeVisme, who rented the farm from the Melo e Castro family in the 18th century. He was followed by William Beckford, who also lived here, and by Francis Cook.
It was, however, Francis Cook, the first Viscount of Monserrate, who, together with the landscape painter William Stockdale, the botanist William Nevill and the master gardener James Burt, created the contrasting scenarios that are to be found in the park, where narrow winding footpaths intertwine amongst ruins, nooks and crannies, waterfalls and lakes, in what, at first sight, seems to be an apparently disordered fashion.
Spontaneously growing species from Portugal (arbutus-trees, holly trees, cork oak-trees, amongst others) combine with others originating from all of the world’s five continents, inviting visitors to enjoy a stroll through plant varieties of the whole world, ranging from such countries as Australia to Mexico and Japan. Altogether, there are more than 2500 species.
Particularly worth a mention inside the palace are the Music Room and the luxurious reception rooms, such as the Indian living-room, the dining-room and the library, all of which are to be found on the ground floor. The tour of the palace also takes visitors to the first floor, where the private apartments were located
Stop At: Estrada Cabo da Roca, Colares 2705-001 Portugal
Cabo da Roca
If you go to Sintra, don’t miss the chance to visit the westernmost point of mainland Europe, Cabo da Roca.
Located at latitude 38º 47´north and longitude 9º 30´west, Cabo da Roca is an important coordinate for those sailing along the coast, as it is the most westerly point of mainland Europe, a fact borne out by the certificates that visitors take away as a souvenir.
Around 150 metres above the sea, here you can have a panoramic view over the Serra de Sintra and the coast, which makes it worth the visit.
Historical records indicate that there was a fort on Cabo da Roca in the 17th century that played an important part in guarding the entrance to Lisbon’s harbour, forming a defensive line along the coast, especially during the Peninsular Wars. Today there are only traces, as well as the lighthouse which is still an important point for navigation.
It lies within the Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais and is one of the points of interest on the walking trails that can be followed here, along the coast.
Duration: 15 minutes
Stop At: Centro Historico de Cascais, Cascais Portugal
Towns and Villages
Situated close to the sea and traditionally a fishing village, Cascais enjoyed an important period of development in the 14th century, when it was a major stopping off point for boats on their way to Lisbon, turning it into a very busy port at that time.
It was, however, in the second half of the 19th century, when sea bathing became a popular activity, that Cascais was given the impetus that transformed it into a very fashionable summer resort. The great driving force behind this transformation was the king of Portugal, Dom Luís I, who, in 1870, converted the Fortaleza da Cidadela into the summer residence of the Portuguese monarchy. The king's example was immediately copied by the nobility, who built palaces and extremely beautiful villas in the town, where they spent the hottest season of the year, completely transforming the appearance of the former fishing village.
Cascais also began to attract the attention of the curious, who came here to enjoy a stroll by the seaside, and access to the town was greatly facilitated by the opening of the railway line between Pedrouços and Cascais in 1889. Nowadays, Cascais is a very lively and cosmopolitan town that still preserves a great deal of its earlier aristocratic atmosphere.
Particularly recommended is a stroll through its streets, where you will find shops of the highest quality, or perhaps you might prefer to enjoy a few moments' rest at one of the many outdoor cafés and restaurants scattered about the town. The beaches continue to be one of Cascais' greatest attractions, and it is possible to choose from amongst those that are situated in the town's sheltered bay or those a little further away in the area around Guincho, (already forming part of the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park), where there are excellent conditions for surfing and windsurfing. The Boca do Inferno (literally the Jaws of Hell), an inlet along the coast that is surrounded by steep rocks and caves, continues to be a natural curiosity attracting many thousands of visitors to marvel at the brute strength of the sea.
A special mention is reserved for the local cuisine, especially the fresh fish and shellfish dishes that are served here and which can be enjoyed in the region's many restaurants.
Duration: 15 minutes