It is no accident that Sintra is the capital of Romanticism: in the town and in all its surroundings one can breathe the spirit of those who, in bygone times, dared to dream.
Kings who ordered glorious palaces to be built on mountaintops, nobles and visionary millionaires who designed mansions and gardens where even today steps and imagination still boggle the mind. Or writers and poets who have made Sintra famous and immortalised it in their words. Eça de Queirós was the one who was most captivated by the town’s charm, allowing its romantic atmosphere to shine through in almost all his works.
Like a gemstone inlaid between the mountains and the sea, Sintra is an invitation to immerse oneself in a state of almost pure nature, with its lush vegetation and rugged slopes that lead down to the beach. From the many viewing points, the gaze reaches out to the immensity of the ocean. At the cape, the westernmost point of Europe, the sensation of an abyss evokes unique feelings. Sintra’s extensive network of museums and wealth of events makes it a gateway to culture. It also boasts an extraordinary range of gastronomic delights.
A HISTORICAL TOWN
“Sintra is the only place in the country in which history
has become a garden, because all its legends converge
there and its very monuments speak less of the past
than of an eternal present of greenery.”
Louvar Amar (To Praise, To Love), Vergílio Ferreira
The history of Sintra, but also that of the nation, is narrated by the monuments that multiply over the landscape.
The Moorish castle peers down from the mountain above, a witness of the times when the Moors were invaders and the Christians were trying to reconquer the land. In the town centre, the Palácio Nacional de Sintra (Sintra National Palace) shares the same past.
At the Palácio Nacional da Pena (Pena National Palace), one can re-live the dream of an artist-king who bequeathed to posterity one of the most magnificent examples of Romantic architecture, while the Palácio Nacional de Queluz (Queluz National Palace) offers a return to the pomp of the court and the monarchy.
In visiting the Convento dos Capuchos (Convent of the Capuchins) one experiences the isolation of the Franciscan friars, and walking round the Quinta da Regaleira palace one encounters a thousand and one enigmatic nooks and crannies.
Sintra is a monumental town that leaves strong impressions on visitors.
PENA NATIONAL PALACE
A ROMANTIC DREAM
It is impossible to pass Sintra without noticing the magnificent palace that stands on top of the mountain. The ochre colours of this unusual building, whose domes and minarets are interspersed with turrets and battlements, dominate the landscape.
This is the Pena National Palace, considered the foremost example of Romantic architecture in Portugal. It could not be otherwise: after all, it was the realisation of the Romantic dream of Dom Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the king consort of Queen Dona Maria II.
Built over a period of nearly 50 years, between 1839 and 1885, it is as exuberant inside as out, combining such diverse styles as Neo-Manueline, Neo-Gothic and Neo-Arab. It is a unique monument, and this is why it is one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.
SINTRA NATIONAL PALACE
AN ECHO OF MEDIEVAL TIMES
Though Moorish in origin, the Christians continued to develop the building, designing it in the form of a palace that harmoniously combines Gothic and Manueline lines. In the historical centre we find what is the only survivor of the medieval royal courts: the Palácio Nacional de Sintra (Sintra National Palace), also known as the Palácio da Vila (Town Palace). A national monument since 1910, the two white conical chimneys that tower over the town’s rooftops make it easily recognisable.
QUELUZ NATIONAL PALACE
AN ABSOLUTIST COURT
Deservedly known as “the Portuguese Versailles”, the Queluz National Palace is a perfect example of the 18th-century Rococo style, evident in the external lines and in the sophistication of the interior. Its halls bear witness to the opulence of the absolutist Portuguese court, and nowadays it continues to honour this illustrious past by hosting the foreign heads of state who visit Portugal.
A THOUSAND AND ONE ENIGMAS
It was the millionaire António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro’s passion for the esoteric that gave rise to one of Sintra’s most remarkable monuments. The Regaleira palace stands amid the luxuriant scenery of the mountains, a starting-point for a journey around an estate where mystery reigns. Interplays of light and darkness awaken the senses, leading the way through a true maze of gardens, lakes and grottoes.