Sintra’s Pena Palace

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

February 26th, 2021

Today we’re west of Lisbon, in Sintra, exploring Pena Palace. Painted in such vibrant colors, the fairy tale exterior belies the palace’s 600+ year history as (among other things) a former home of the royal family of Portugal. Together with the blue sky, the trio of primary colors and jumble of mixed shapes are an odd sight but intriguing enough to beckon thousands of visitors in non-Covid times.

This post is split up and reshaped from my original in 2017.

Have a look around. Tomorrow we’ll compare and contrast from next door.

Until then,
Kelly

P.S. Happy weekend! I look forward to catching up on your blog posts and replying to comments tomorrow.

Post of the Day: Adding a bit of light to the darkness as we get through the pandemic together. This series features travel photos from my archives, shared with you while staying close to home.

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Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

We’re standing on a mountaintop west of Lisbon. We’ve lucked out. It’s one of those perfect days when the blue sky extends all the way down to the horizon. To get here, we drove west from Lisbon to Sintra, parked the car, walked partially up the hill, stopped to think about it, hired a mototaxi, arrived at the ticket booth of Pena Palace and climbed the final path to the entrance. This is not an easy place to get to but no mountaintop view comes without a cost.

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace is an example of Romanticism in architecture — emotional, eccentric and highly imaginative. It’s definitely romantic, inspiring visions of Rapunzel unfurling her hair from the turrets. With its fanciful spires and crenellations, it looks more like a castle than a palace to me.

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace is a Unesco World Heritage Site which was first a chapel, then developed into a monastery in the late 1400s, then destroyed by the earthquake of 1755 and rebuilt in the mid-1800s by King-Consort Ferdinand (husband of Queen Maria II) as a residence for Portugal’s royal family. The palace became a national landmark in the early 1900s.

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

King Ferdinand was also known as King-Artist — a moniker that developed from his interest in art, music and languages. To create Pena Palace, King Ferdinand worked with German architect Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege, whose work here may bear some similarities with castles of his home country.

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

The palace’s madder and yellow exterior projects exuberance but I imagine all the history, all the love and fear, all the sunny days and terrible storms, all the glorious moments and sad departures that have happened at this mountain monument throughout the last centuries.

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

A mythical Triton stares down from the front of the palace. I’m not sure what he’s doing in that clam shell but he’s eternally posed and begs for a photo.

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

The palace interior tells less of a fairy tale, more of a biography. Weathered tiles cover the courtyard and residential spaces display the furnishings of the day. The dining room drips with character and I imagine a royal dinner for twelve or a candlelight tryst between two lovers with Madeira wine and the silence of the stone walls.

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

The kitchen, bright with sunlight and an enviable range of copper cookware, feels almost luxurious with its farmhouse style and arched ceiling. But of course there was no refrigerator, or dishwasher, or even running water back in the day.

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

I remind myself to mind all the gaps here at Pena Palace. The battlements are thick but the many high and precarious viewpoints could be deadly for anyone absorbed in a quest for the perfect selfie.

Sintra, Portugal

Sintra, Portugal

Sintra, Portugal

Sintra, Portugal

We mototaxi back down the hill and find some lunch in the lovely town of Sintra. We tuck around the back of Lawrence’s Restaurant and have the balcony to ourselves. After lunch we debate about driving back up the hill to see Castelo dos Mouros, the Moorish Castle. Can it really be that spectacular after seeing such an overwhelming example of Romantic architecture?

We’ll find out tomorrow!

View of Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

View of Pena Palace :: Sintra, Portugal

17 comments

  • It’s a crazy place, but very beautiful. We very foolishly walked up there, assuring ourselves as each bus passed us that it wasn’t far. Ha! One of so many mistakes 🙂 🙂 It’s a long time since we were there and I promised myself an overnight stay next time. Not in the Palace, but it’s a thought… Great photos, Kelly!

    Like

  • What a sunny, cheerful place! I got a good laugh out of your comment about minding the gaps up in those towers; a cartoon-like visual of flailing selfie takers popped right into my head. (Btw, in your first paragraph beyond the intro, you say we are on a mountain west of Portugal … after 5 seconds of trying to picture that island, I realized you meant Lisbon – I think!) Happy weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • LISBON! You’re absolutely right. I will fix that. Thank you! Sometimes I’m so tired and it’s so late when I can finally sit down to write these daily posts, it’s a wonder I make any sense at all. Looking forward to hitting 365 when I plan on taking a break. 🙂 And yes, the GAPS! They’re everywhere! In the States, much of this place would be off limits for safety reasons. Thanks Lex!! Hope things are getting back to normal in Houston.

      Liked by 1 person

  • I love your comment “No mountaintop view comes without a cost” which all good travelers know to be true! Quite metaphorical for life as well and should be needlepointed on some pillows to sell in the gift shop.

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  • What a beautiful day for a visit, but with that sun a walk all the way to the top would have been not so much fun! The palace architecture is so interesting – the exterior so extraordinarily beautiful and elaborate – even a bit whimsical perhaps – the colours so primary and eye grabbing. The architect of that design must have been enjoying immensely the creation process to have designed something like this! The interior is much more sedate and classy as one should expect perhaps.

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    • Agreed! The architect must have had a lot of fun designing for a mountaintop seen from all around. What a project and such a hard location to get to. I did like the more traditional interior a lot. Something about that dining room really appealed to me… it looks like it would be SO cozy on a stormy night. Thanks for your comment!

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  • I’d only learned of this place earlier this year in another blog and now I’m dying to see it! Loved your photos – looks like a must see!

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  • I am generally reserved on the anachronistic dressing of ancient monuments, but in the case of Sintra, I acknowledge that the entertaining side prevails. I tried to reach the castle on my journey through Portugal, but in the end I was content with a distant view given the difficulty of access and the time it takes. Your photos and reflections are as always very enriching.

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  • I would so love to see this place – if only for the colours alone! Just gorgeous.
    Can hardly believe it’s been over 3 years since you were there and we were house sitting for you!
    Alison

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    • YES! That’s right! It all timed up so perfectly! Wow, three years. So much has changed. We loved that apartment but we’re very happy knowing we left there and settled here before the pandemic happened. We wouldn’t have felt comfortable being in such a big building with so many people, elevators, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Beautiful scenery!! Structures, land, colors, architecture.

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  • Pingback: Sintra’s Castle of the Moors |

  • One of the most colorful castles I’ve ever seen. And it looks to be in great shape. Thanks for posting. I’m really getting into Portugal, thanks to your photographs.

    Like

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