My friends and I were invited to a (beautiful) wedding in Sintra, so we decided to go a few days early and have a good look around.
We got the train from Rossio Station in Lisbon. Wow, if the station is that impressive, what is the rest of Portugal like, we wondered! It only takes 40 minutes on the train and doesn’t cost very much. Do it!
We knew that Sintra was well known for its palaces and castles, and that lots of people (even the Portuguese) like to visit there, but we weren’t prepared for this.
This is a town rich in history and art, and, even in the rain, has an alluring charm about it. These royal buildings, the steep, cobbled streets, the romantic restaurants. You’ll feel your problems drift away to the sound of the traditional fado music playing on every corner.
Palácio Nacional da Pena (Pena Palace):
The Feather Palace was built by a very… artistic… king. I’m kidding, it’s a really cool place. The king wanted his palace to look like an opera house. Different sections are completely different designs. I love this idea. Some parts are flamboyantly pink and yellow, others are amazing stone carvings. I’ve heard people say it looks like a cross between, bare with me here, Disney Castle and a wedding cake. When you see this place, that will make so much more sense to you!
But, this uniquely designed palace started out as a quiet little monastery on a hill to 18 monks.
On a clear day you can actually see the Pena Palace from Lisbon, 14 miles away. It stands on a huge hill, but don’t worry, there are buses that will bring you up from either the bottom of the hill or outside of Sintra station. It’s a bumpy (and very crowded) ride up there, and I would recommend anybody who suffers from travel sickness to pop a pill before they board!
Quinta da Regaleira (Regaleira Palace and Gardens):
Oh my god, we had so much fun here! There’s the palace itself, a chapel, tunnels you can giggle your way through in complete darkness, fountains, grottoes, lakes, everything!
Basically, a millionaire bought it and hired an Italian architect to spice it up a bit, so now it has Gothic, Roman and Rennaissance elements about it. Mostly Gothic, so it would be ideal if they ever film a horror movie in Sintra…
Palácio Nacional de Sintra (National Palace of Sintra):
You’ll recognise this one straight away with its two cone-shaped chimneys. The inside is crazy, but good crazy.
There’s the Swan Room (I won’t spoil this one for you too much, but there’s some swans inside) and then the Magpie Room. The story goes that the Queen caught João I kissing a lady-in-waiting. When he was confronted he simply claimed that the kisses were innocent and meant nothing and then commissioned a magpie for all of the ladies-in-waiting!
Go to Sintra, and take in every moment you have there.