Monday, 31 July 2017

Portugal: Queen of the Sintra Castle

I am 100% certain that in your life, at some point, however briefly, you have wondered just what it would be like to live in a castle or palace. It is also entirely possible that I may have spent more time thinking about this  than the average person.

No, seriously. I have the floor plan worked out and everything.

Anyway, with my dreams of castles firmly in mind, you can see why the day trip we had planned to Sintra was perhaps one of my most highly anticipated days of the trip.

Sintra, only a short train ride outside of Lisbon, is home to Pena Palace which must surely have been the inspiration for just about every Disney fairy tale castle ever imagined. As you walk up the fairly steep path to the palace gates, an eclectic mix of turrets and towers rise up over you. Built in a 'romanticist' style, every bit of the castle is different. You can really see the Moorish influence in the architecture, mixed in with a more European, classical style.

Just look at these archways!

And this turret!

AND this window! It's as if Ariel's dad got immortalised in stone.

I'd really recommend going inside the palace rooms as it's here where you get a feel for the history of the place. Pena Palace was built on top of an old monastery by Kind Ferdinand II and so remnants of this old building remain in the layout of the rooms - a dressing room which used to be a monk's 'cell' or a wine cellar which used to hold misbehaving monastery members. The palace also showcases the changing family values in the mid 1800s - rooms are smaller than expected, much more intimate and closer together, signifying the view that even the royal family had a right to be a closer unit with an element of privacy.

The view from the ramparts is simply spectacular and you suddenly appreciate just how high up the palace is!

Attached to the palace are extensive grounds and suddenly I was very, very glad I had won my trainers. Normally, there's a hop on hop off bus which will wiz you around from place to place, however on the day we visited it was out of service! So Joss and I took it upon ourselves to walk the kilometer and a half across the grounds, up hill and in 30 degree heat, to visit the Queen's chalet.

The walk was rather beautiful in places - we stumbled across bridges, ponds and even vegetable gardens.

However, finally we reached the chalet. The building was based on a Swiss chalet and felt like something out of Hansel and Gretel, all carved out of wood. Inside, it was surprisingly small, with vines and branches carved into the ceiling.

Our next stop was the medieval Moorish Castle which was on top of its own hill, a long walk away. Now, mostly what's left is a collection of stone walls which you can walk along. There's also a cute little market selling local food and drink.

We climbed right to the highest point - it seemed like we could see over the entirety of Portugal from up there!

Sintra was a fantastic day trip - I really enjoyed discovering all of the different places to visit even if the walks between them were long, hot and sweaty! The Pena Palace really is not to be missed - although I wished we'd had a little more time to explore every little nook and cranny!


  1. I love it, I've never been to Portugal and this is really making me want to go. Looks like you had a fab time - where are you off to next?


    1. Thank you Jet - this is reason enough to go!

      Off to Italy in a couple of weeks - thank god - already fed up of this London rain!


    2. ooh have fun - and blog about it so I can be jealous haha


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