We took a combo ticket for Pena Palace and Moorish Castle, supposedly the most visited monuments in Sintra. We parked our car near tourist office and started our hiking. We walked across beautiful houses and gardens before we entered into the Pena Palace Gardens. The garden was all green and looked lovely. We hiked around the lush green landscape that had lovely ponds, ducks, swans, and some exotic trees.
After a good 30 minute hike (or possibly more than that!), we reached the foot of what is considered an exemplary architecture in Portugal, Pena Palace. A UNESCO world heritage site, this palace is also considered one of the Wonders of Portugal. It’s a finest example of a mixture of architecture from Moorish to Renaissance to Neo-classical.
It mesmerized us at the very first glance itself. The intricate and distinctive details on the pillars, walls and interiors are second to none.
|The giant gargoyle that peered down at the entrance caught our eyes quickly
The exterior work seemed very unique with tile work, triangle and circle embedded entrances (like in the above pic) simply made us wonder how much of creativity and hard-work would have gone into creating such a masterpiece. The interiors of the Palace included beautifully painted walls with numerous royal collections. Inside housed a Chapel, Noble Room, Royal Dining Room, Kitchen etc.
The stark brick red paint on the exteriors of the Palace combined with faded lime yellow captured the attention of tourists.
The vistas from the palace were breathtaking. We saw birds eye view of Sintra town and the remains of Moorish castle, and magnanimous portion of natural scenery.
After our palace tour, we spent some more time admiring the palace architecture trying to capture them with our gadgets. Later, we continued to hike to reach Moorish Castle, another but ruined castle that sits on a bit smaller hill overlooking Sintra town and the Pena Palace. The distance from Pena Palace to the Moorish Castle is an easy 10-15 minute walk.
It’s definitely one of the superior castle ruins we’ve seen so far, sitting on a great vista and offering breathtaking views. But as we neared the castle, it was getting really cold and windy. We stopped at every view point to take pictures. The steps that lead to the top most point of the castle was really steep and a bit slippery with moist.
The feeling it gave to be on top of the castle and see all things tiny is something we loved! All this while we were only seeing Sintra town in a microscopic view, but it took us by surprise when we turned to the other side of the castle – an astounding view of Pena Palace! That’s when we wished it had been a blue sky day ! But this pic isn’t bad at all, right?
|The spell-bounding rear view of Pena Palace from the Moorish Castle
Sintra Travel Tips & Practical Information:
# Sintra is well connected to Lisbon by rail service, if you prefer public transport and they are affordable. If you choose to drive to Sintra, remember it will be very crowded and getting a car parking space in the town or near palace/ castle can be very challenging.
# There are frequent trains between Lisbon – Sintra, the ticket cost being €4.30 with return and the duration is 40 minutes.
# Tourist attractions in Sintra include Quinta da Regaleira, Monserrate Palace, Sintra National Palace, Toy Museum, Queluz National Palace, Convento dos Capuchos.
# Practically its not possible to visit all attractions on same day. While each one of them have their own charm, it’s best to research about the attractions well in advance and choose your combo tickets wisely to save a penny or two.
# If you do not want to walk from the town to the castles/palaces, there are alternate options:-
Bus #434 circular route –>Train Station – Sintra centre – Pena Palace – Moorish Castle – Train Station costs €5. Alternatively there are horse carriage and tuk-tuk rides who prefer classy and comfort.
# If you plan to hike to the palace or castle, do bring good hiking shoes.
# It’s only ideal to pack a box of sandwich or any snack, because you don’t want to hike down to the town for lunch, and again hike back there!
Did you enjoy travelling virtually to Sintra National Park? Have you been to similar castles and palaces that stole your heart at first sight? Do leave a comment or two.