Sintra a stunning resort town in the foothills of Portugal’s Sintra Mountains, near the capital of Lisbon. If there is one thing that Sintra does well, it is the gorgeous castles, palaces, and breath-taking views.
Let’s explore the stunning sights to see in Sintra…
Pena National Palace
The hilltop 19th-century Pena National Palace (Palacio Nacional da Pena) is known for a whimsical design, sweeping views and is, quite rightly, named one of Portugal’s “Seven Wonders” and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Romanticist style of architecture is partly an adaptation of a 16th-century monastery and partly an imitation of a medieval fortress, which was built for Queen Maria II by her young German consort, Ferdinand II.
The lavish interior of Pena National Palace has been restored to reflect the decor in 1910 when the Portuguese nobility fled to Brazil to escape the revolution. The exterior is super impressive with beautiful stuccowork, brightly coloured terraces, and statues that just pop out against the backdrop of expansive Parque de Pena forest.
Castelo dos Mouros
Dating back to the Moorish era (8-12th century), the Castle of the Moors (Castelo dos Mouros) defended the whole area as it sits high above the city of Sintra with views of the coast and surrounding countryside.
The castle was left as ruins after the Christian Crusaders ambushed the fortifications in 1147 which would have been a hard task given its prolific location. Thankfully, in the mid 19th century a restoration project began under the direction of King Ferdinand II as part of his Romanticist designs on Sintra which included the neighboring Pena Palace.
Queluz National Palace
Queluz National Palace is located between Lisbon and Sintra and was the official royal residence during the 18th century.
The palace mainly served as a summer retreat to Dom Pedro of Braganza, who would become King Consort to his own niece, Queen Maria I. Following a happy marriage, Queen Dom Maria showed signs of madness the year her husband died in 1786 and only went further downhill on the death of her eldest son, José, from smallpox 2 years later. She was then hidden away in what is called “Maria’s Pavilion” in the staterooms of José.
The magnificent Baroque palace is famous for decorative Rococo design, gilded stuccowork, and beautiful gardens – it is well worth taking a half-day trip to visit Queluz National Palace.
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Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira is one of Sintra’s most extravagant 19th-century villas boasting neo-gothic architecture and carved pinnacles. The owner of the Quinta da Regaleira was a wealthy Brazilian, António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro, who made his fortune in the coffee and precious stones. His fascination with the Freemasons and Knights Templar was the inspiration for the design, monuments, and decor.
His love for the unconventional is ever-present with the underground system of tunnels and grottoes as well the spiral stairways that lead to sanctums for tarot ceremonies. Quinta da Regaleira is a wondrous place to explore!
Sintra National Palace
The Sintra National Palace (Palacio Nacional de Sintra) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the best-preserved medieval royal palace in Portugal. Sintra National Palace was a longtime sanctuary to the nobility who resided there from the early 15th through to the late 19th century, and it is Portugal’s most lived-in royal palace.
The palace was originally in Arabian style and was renovated in the 15th century to the Manueline style. Set within forested terrain, the complex is studded with pastel-colored villas and palaces.
The Moorish- and Manueline-style Sintra National Palace has elaborate tilework.
Cabo da Roca
Whilst the Cabo da Roca or Cape Roca is not a luxurious palace or castle, the views are incredible and should not be missed on a trip to Sintra.
The wind whips around the rugged headland which marks the westernmost point of continental Europe. A lighthouse sits on the cape high above a granite cliff with huge rocks below. There are some challenging coastal hiking paths that lead to gorgeous cove beaches such as the Praia da Ursa or Praia da Adraga.
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