Visit the fairy tale land of castles in Sintra, Portugal

Stef Zisovska
 

Sintra is a gorgeous Portuguese town, only 45 minutes from Lisbon, full of architectural wonders such as castles and palaces. Sintra is the center of Portuguese culture and the most visited place in the country. Royal retreats, buildings, palaces, the medieval castle of the Moors, the Pena National Palace, and the Sintra National Palace are only some of the beautiful locations that you can visit on a day trip from Lisbon.

 

If you want to get to know this fascinating region better, then plan a few day trips and make a plan of daily activities, so you can best use your time to see as many sites as possible.

Pena National Palace

The Pena Palace – Author: Singa Hitam – CC BY 2.0

The Pena Palace – Author: Singa Hitam – CC BY 2.0

The Pena Palace is a delightful mixture of styles varying from North African to medieval Gothic. It was commissioned in 1842 by the King Ferdinand II who was a great admirer of arts, literature, and music. The palace lies on the top of Sintra Mountains, and on a clear day can be seen from Lisbon. The interior of the palace is as amazing as the outside, with all the elements of Romanticism.

The whole building is surrounded by the Pina Park which was created at the same time as the palace. King Ferdinand II ordered trees from all around the world for the park, so today you can find North American Sequoia, Magnolia, Chinese Ginkgo, Japanese Cryptomeria, and tree ferns from Australia and New Zealand.

 Castle of the Moors

The Moorish Castle in the clouds, overlooking the historic town of Sintra – Author: Joaomartinho63 – CC BY-SA 3.0

The Moorish Castle in the clouds, overlooking the historic town of Sintra – Author: Joaomartinho63 – CC BY-SA 3.0

The Castle of the Moors is located on a hilltop only 15 miles from Lisbon. During the 9th century the castle served as a fortified observatory with viewpoints over the whole region and the sea. In the 12th century the Christan Crusaders invaded Portugal, so the castle lost its importance during that time. It deteriorated further in time, suffering from fire and earthquakes in the 17th and 18th centuries. The castle was restored in the 19th century and represents one of the most spectacular landmarks of Portugal today. From the castle, you can see the whole Sintra region, and get some great pictures. You can visit Pena Palace and the Castle of the Moors in one day, but only if you start early.

Sintra National Palace

Palacio Sintra – Author: Alvesgaspar – CC BY-SA 4.0

Palacio Sintra – Author: Alvesgaspar – CC BY-SA 4.0

The National Palace of Sintra is located in Sintra town. It’s also known as the Town Palace. The palace was a royal residence continuously from the 15th century until the fall of the monarchy in 1910. The minimalistic gothic exterior culminates with the two huge chimneys that rise out from the kitchens. The inside of the palace is full of paintings that represent the rich history of the country. You can visit the National Palace of Sintra while exploring the whole old town and its beautiful streets, cafes, and restaurants. Avoid going around midday because it gets too crowded.

Monserrate Palace

Palácio de Monserrate, Sintra, Portugal – Author: Cláudia Almeida – CC BY-SA 3.0

Palácio de Monserrate, Sintra, Portugal – Author: Cláudia Almeida – CC BY-SA 3.0

The Monserrate Palace is the best example of Islamic architecture from the 19th century that can be seen in Sintra. The fine-carved stones on the exterior of the palace and the intricate geometric forms were also inspired by Indian culture. The gardens of the Monserrate Palace are peaceful and full of exotic plants. Only 2.5 miles from the center of Sintra town, the Palace can be visited by the 435 bus route. Being outside of the city, this beautiful attraction is much quieter than the other historic buildings, and when you come here, you won’t feel like you do in other crowded touristic places.

Sintra is a beautiful region with countless things to visit and do around all the stunning architectural beauties.

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