The Pena Palace a must see in Sintra

As our tuk-tuk pulls into the Pena Palace (just 5 minutes up the road from the Castle of the Moors), we have a little panic when we see the line up.  Hello it is only March, yes “what the heck is it like in July”.  Luckily this is the lineup to buy our tickets, we already have ours.  Ha ha ha  Off to the gate and right in we go.  This is probably the highest point in the area.  On a clear day you can actually see the Pena Palace from Lisbon.  Once again the Lisbon side is warm and the Atlantic side of the palace is cold.

The castle’s history started in the Middle Ages when someone had a visitation from the Virgin Mary and a chapel was dedicated to “Our Lady of Pena” on top of the hill.  From then on, it was built and rebuilt as as lightning and earthquakes destroyed it.  In the 19th century King Ferdinand II turned it into his summer residence.

During the 20th century the palace had turned complete grey because of disuse and disrepair.  The government of Portugal then took over the care of it and it was repainted to it’s glorious colours of red and yellow.

As Jim and I walked up to the gates we kept asking “where’s Mickey”  it looks like a Disney castle which isn’t surprising as the architect that was commissioned to build it was a German,  The government also wanted to maintain the history of the region and insisted on a Renaissance style including an Islamic flavour because of the history of Portugal.  One of the many highlights of the Palace was the indoor plumbing.  🙂

You can see all the way to the Atlantic, down to the Castle of the Moors, down on Sintra and all the way over to Lisbon.

Being situated on 200 hectares of forested land there was lots of hunting for the aristocracy.  As Jim and I wandered the grounds I couldn’t resist singing “Robin Hood Robin Hood and his band of men……”.  The forest feels like a rain forest, with all its moss and ivy growing up the trees.  A wonderful feeling of tranquility as we wandered the paths.  I hate to say this but I was the loudest person/thing out there

After we finished with the castle I insisted on going up to see the high cross, after all it  was only another 820 meters, most of it up hill.  Jim followed along behind grumbling away.  After about 2/3rds of the way there Jim said enough.  I said OK you wait here and I’ll be back.  Off I went.  It was amazing, you had a 360 degree view of the whole area and could even see the Palace from here.  I happily looked around and took pictures and headed back down.  What to my wondering eye should I behold but Jim wandering up, he looked at me and said “I thought you had had a heart attack”.  He should have been happy he didn’t have to carry me down.  I showed him my pictures and off we went back up so he could see it himself.  I seriously could not stop laughing.

2/3rds of the day is done and we are up to 12000 steps.  Definitely time to head down for a glass of wine before we are off to the next Palace.  There is a huge line up for the bus.  We are about 20th in line.  The bus pulls in, No one gets off, another bus pulls in at the back Jim grabs my arm and drags me back to this bus which is empty, the lovely conductor says NO NO NO, back in line you go.  You can’t get on until I pull up there.  Nice try.  Thankfully there was a lovely English couple who saved our spot, otherwise we might still be there waiting for the next bus.  LOL. Always an adventure.

Categories: photography, Portugal, Travel, UncategorizedTags: , , ,

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