The Pena (Feather) PalaceFebruary 27 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C
Pena sits high above Sintra on a plateau that is about 450m/1,476’ above sea level. Originally, we were going to walk up to the palace (a hard hike up!) but I felt that it was going to be too time consuming and tiring, so we hopped on the convenient bus #434 which took us on a winding, narrow ride up to the top. We passed the Moorish Castle which was built between the 8th and 9th Centuries but didn’t stop in. We have seen so many castles so far and from what we read, it is just a shell but with great lookouts. The Palace is situated a lot higher and more interesting so we decided to just go to it.
Originally a chapel sat where the palace is now. In the early 16th Century, a King ordered a monastery for the Jeronimos monks (hermits) to be built on the site. Only eighteen monks lived there.
In the mid 1800’s, Fernando II, a romantic German-born prince, hired a German architect to build a fantasy castle for him with Gothic towers, Renaissance domes, Moorish minarets, Manueline carvings and a Disneyland-like playfulness.
As we walked up the road leading to the palace, we were once again slack-jawed by what we saw. The palace is so well-preserved that except for all the tourists, it feels like it is the day after the royal family fled to Brazil in 1910.
We went through a tunnel and entered the courtyard of the magical world of Pena.
As the palace was originally a monastery, the old section still had several small rooms on two levels around the cloister. We joined a line of people and walked though a dining room with a long table set with lovely dishes. Then on to King Carlos‘ workshop where he painted in the Art Nouveau style.
In the King’s bedroom and bathroom, there was an English shower and tub and a telephone. The whole room was filled with furniture and lots of knickknacks.
The handrail going up the stairs to the Queen’s bedroom was in the shape of a slithering snake. Queen Amelie’s life in the early 1900s was not an easy one. In 1908, her husband and eldest son were assassinated. Her youngest son became the King but in 1910 but had to escape to Brazil during the 1910 revolution. Her last night was spent in the Pena Palace.
We noticed for the first time that this palace had flush toilets, bath tubs and even a telephone room.
The Queen’s Terrace had wonderful views.
Outside there was another patio and a lovely private chapel with pretty stained glass windows. We met a Canadian teacher here from Montreal who with his wife and 11 year daughter, were on a 1 year sabbatical travelling around Europe. They were into their 7th month and their daughter was looking forward to meeting up with a friend of hers, during the March break, in Spain. We continued on the narrow Wall Walk, ramparts, to see the 360 degree views.
Now, the palace is split up into different sections. What we had seen was the modified old monastery section. The new wing had the apartments of the last king which included a smoking room and a Great Hall. We went down some stairs and went into a Stag Room with mounted deer heads and even a moose. Once again down some stairs to the Kitchen with 2 of its 3 original ovens and all sorts of kitchen ware. It was a huge room and there was a lot to see.
The palace has extensive, lush gardens with meandering walkways all the way down to where we had to take our bus back to Sintra.
Once again, a wonderful day for us.
P.S. We came home and watched Michael Cohen’s Testimony/Interrogation by the Senate...Read more