Pena Palace – Sintra, Portugal

OH Pena, you old beauty you. Pena Palace is a romanticist castle that sits on the Sintra Mountains overlooking Sintra and Lisbon.

The site started as a chapel in the middle ages and over the years was built on and updated by various key figures in history. The chapel was reduced to ruin during the infamous 1755 earthquake which you will hear a lot about in all my posts about Portugal. It wasn’t until 1847 when King Ferdinand and Queen Maria II with the help of German architect Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege  built it up into the royal summer palace that you see today.

There is an abundance of German, Islamic and Medieval detail which makes for a fascinating tour.

We made it up on our first full day in Sintra area. We were all still pretty tired and a couple of us were starting to get sick. But we braved the new streets in a our big rental car and wound our way up the narrow hill to the Pena Palace. We parked somewhat randomly after the third or so parking section within the park fearing that we wouldn’t find another. Truth be told there was plenty of parking but I could see if you were there during tourist season you wouldn’t want to drive at all. Instead choose to catch one of the tour buses or TukTuk at the Sintra city center.

Ticket our bought for both the palace and the Castle of the Moors in a somewhat unassuming hut in one of the larger parking areas (and by larger I mean there are 7 spots). We bought our tickets and started off on a random path that looked like it might lead up to the palace and quickly got shouted at and herded up a slightly different path. Not uncommon, my family seems to have a penance for getting in trouble when traveling oversees. Blame it on our go getter attitude and unbridled joy when it comes to new experiences.

The correct path has us walking up and around through the royal gardens. Which was lovely. We had every intention of going back and walking through more of it but it was a long day and we wound up heading for dinner after touring both Pena and the Castle of the Moors.

There were quite a few lovely details in the gardens including a number of sacred spaces meant for quite contemplation and rest. I was only contemplating how on earth I could tile my whole house to match.

The interior was a mix of architectural styles, I of course couldn’t keep my eyes off the chandeliers (see above) and the copper pots in the kitchen (see below).

Then there was this guy that we took to calling “Angry Poseidon”. It took a lot of research to even find mention of the statue and it turns out it Triton instead of Poseidon.

Toward the end of the tour there is a lovely little gallery displaying drawings of former residence, hunting trophies and small statues. This guy below was my favorite, most especially the missing fingers. It reminded me of the running Arrested Development joke “and that’s why you always leave a note”.

From the top of the palace you can see across the small valley the separates the palace and the Castle of the Moors. As well as the greater Sintra area and the Atlantic Ocean.

We exited the palace the opposite side we came up and walked down the steep cobblestone walk to the main entrance of the palace, where we exited, crossed the street and spent the rest of the day at the Castle of the Moors.

Address and Additional information: Estrada da Pena, 2710-609 Sintra, Portugal

  • http://www.parquesdesintra.pt/parques-jardins-e-monumentos/parque-e-palacio-nacional-da-pena/
  • https://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Europe/Portugal/Distrito_de_Lisboa/Sintra-279605/Transportation-Sintra-buses_around_town-BR-1.html
  • http://www.promptguides.com/lisbon/attractions/pena_national_palace_sintra.htm