Im Jahr 1840 wurde das Schloss aus den Ruinen eines Klosters gebaut und steht seit über hundert Jahren leer. Bei der Besichtigung bekommt man jedoch schnell das Gefühl, König und Königen kommen jeden Moment vom einkaufen zurück.
Our destination today was the summer royal Palace of Pena, built on the site of the former Convent of Our Lady of Pena in the mid 1800s. We drove up and up, and once parked, we walked up and up some more. It is at the top of a mountain, to catch the cooling Atlantic breezes, as it gets hot in Lisbon in the summer, around 105 degrees at the most. The castle is 19th century Portuguese Romanticism style. Even though we had bought tickets in advance to avoid the line to buy them, we still had to stand in line to get into the palace. It was worth it: jaw dropping!Read more
Time for another UNESCO World Heritage site! Today was the day for Sintra, about 40 minutes north-west of Lisbon, and the site of several palaces built by Portuguese kings in the 19th century. We hit the road around 10, and getting there was a bit of a mission! Google was a little vague on where exactly to head, and we knew from prior research that parking was in desperately short the supply. The little tourist village has basically no parking, and you're better off parking in nearby towns and either walking or catching a tourist bus.
In the end, thanks to some roadworks and vague google directions, we ending up parking a couple of kilometres away and walking uphill to the main site. It's quite a large complex, and the entire area is inscribed on the UNESCO list as the "Sintra Cultural Landscape". But they're all fairly spread out, and ticketed separately of course, and I'm sure they're all nice in their own way. But with a 19th century palace, an 8th century Moorish castle, plus a couple of other country estates to see, we opted for the best known and most iconic one - not to mention we've seen plenty of Moorish castles already with more to come!
So we rocked up to the Palacio da Pena at around 10:30, bought our tickets and puffed our way further up the hill, having already walked uphill for 30+ minutes! This is the main palace here, and was built in the mid-19th century by a Portuguese king who wanted to recreate the storybook castles of his childhood. It's considered one of the finest examples of Romantic art anywhere in the world, and looking at it you can see why!
It's brightly coloured, and strongly incorporates elements of Islamic, Gothic, and Renaissance art into the design, as well as having a real "storybook castle" feel to it. The palace was built as a summer palace for the royal family to escape from the pressures of Lisbon, and its position on a rocky outcrop hundreds of metres above the distant city really adds to the feel. Particularly on days like today where the wind howls in and tosses you around.
We spent quite a while wandering around the outside, marvelling at the details in the finishing and the way various elements fit together. There's also a wall walk which goes around the exterior of the castle - nothing extreme but given the high wind it was quite exciting!
Next up we headed inside, where many of the rooms were kept in great condition and furnished as they were in the time of the last Portuguese sovereigns. Queen Amelia was the last before fleeing into exile in 1910's Republican Revolution, so much of the furnishing was from the early 20th century. A very early telephone, for example, plus clawfoot bathtubs, ornate glasses in the smoking room, fancy crockery and cutlery etc.
It was quite interesting, but certainly nowhere near as visually arresting as the exterior with its bright colours and bold lines. Wanting to stay out of the cold (it was a grey and overcast day in addition to being windy), we ate a late lunch in the restaurant - Shandos had duck with rice and I had a tuna lasagna. Not too bad but a bit overpriced I guess. That said, food generally is more expensive here in Portugal than in Spain. Everywhere in Spain you could find cheaper tapas for 1-2 euros, whereas here in Portugal it's rare to get even a tart or pastry for a euro!
Palacio da Pena is surrounded by a large park and wooded area where the royals would walk, ride and hunt, all of which is still preserved by the government, so we set off for some more walking. It was quite nice, though a little underwhelming perhaps - the weather didn't help. On the brighter side, today is officially the first day of Spring so things will seem a little less dreary.
Still some highlights in the gardens though, including a fernhouse, lakes with ducks, and a great viewpoint on a rocky outcrop with a perfect view of the castle. We managed to get separated as Shandos powered up a hill and I puffed my way up - at the end I went left and she went right, and it took about 20 minutes before we were reunited! If only I'd had a map as well.
Having exhausted the castle and the gardens, and it was now mid-afternoon, we tramped back down the hills to the car - much easier going this time! We drove back to the main town of Sintra to see what we could see, but it was only brief glimpses of the other palaces and castles, and an awful lot of tourists. We felt we'd made the right decision by skipping.
Last stop for the day was a minor but notable landmark - the most westerly point in Europe! There wasn't much there other than howling wind, tourists and an obelisk mentioning the fact, plus of course a cafe and souvenir shop. We had a hot drink to warm up in the cafe, entertained briefly by an army helicopter zooming past, followed a short time later by a small warship, likely a destroyer.
Back to Lisbon we went, in a fairly uneventful drive. More tolls on the freeway though, very annoying! Seems like the government funds roads here via tolls, since I don't think we've ever had to pay for parking since arriving in Portugal. Shandos jumped out at the nearby supermarket and picked up some supplies for dinner - roast chicken and fresh bread, plus another couple of days breakfasts. Another quiet night in watching daily footage and Match of the Day!Read more
The palace has older (first 3 photos) and newer sections (4th and 5th photos) and a chapel.
It was fun to imagine their life away from the city.
Prince Ferdinand hired a German architect to design his castle and ended up with a mixture of styles....Gothic, Renaissance and Moorish. The site was once a monastery and the cloister remained intact. The palace was lived in until 1910 when the royals fled the country during a revolution. It was a very interesting and unusual palace.
Ein sehr junger und interessanter Palast. Hier wurde diverse Baustile verbaut: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palácio_Nacional_da_Pena
You might also know this place by the following names:
Pena National Palace, Palácio Nacional da Pena