Sintra: A fairytale in Portugal

Sintra is a small and magical town located about 25 km northwest of Lisbon. Within such a short distance, it already feels like a different world away there. Radiating a dreamy and colorful vibe, it is a great destination for a day trip to witness great historicity reminiscent of various centuries. Classified as a World Heritage Site and a Cultural Landscape by UNESCO, it made Lord Byron wrote poems, too,  “Lo! Cintra’s glorious Eden intervenes, In variegated maze of mount and glen.”

When to visit?

Spring or early Autumn, when it is still sunny but not burning hot. While Sintra is beautiful regardless of weather conditions, these specific periods make it easier to enjoy the town.

How to get there from Lisbon?

Reaching Sintra is quıite easy, especially by train. The train from Rossio which is connected to the green line of subway departs every other twenty minutes and arrives at Sintra within 40 minutes. Regular and reliable, it is also inexpensive. Once you get off at the final stop, you are only 1,5 km away from the beautiful town center.

The town is also accessible by car through the IC19 highway abd there are two parking areas in Sintra. Yet, it may not be worth the hassle as it is not possible to drive within the town and it may prove to be challenging to find a parking spot during crowded hours.

How to get around in Sintra?

The best option is definitely taking the 434 bus. Its route is specifically determined for travellers so it ensures that you will be able to make most of Sintra in one day.

What to see?

Sintra is home to very eccentric castles and palaces built in different eras and styles. This variety makes you feel like you are travelling in time and between different cultures.

The Pena Palace

Located on the hills of Sintra Mountains, Pena Palace can be even seen from Lisbon on clear days. Standing gloriously in the Romantic style of the 19th century architecture, it is all about the mixture of lively colors and the contrast it creates against the forests.

Pena palace, Sintra, Portugal

During the 13th century, a monastery was built on the same hill dedicated to Our Lady of Pena, also visited later on as a pilgrimage site by the kings. Yet, the 1755 earthquake ruined the monastery and it was King Ferdinand II who decided to build a palace out of the ruins in the 19th century.

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Displaying the king’s changing ideas, an unusual palace was constructed and the interiors were as exotic, too. Completed in 1854, the palace was renovated a couple of times and still remains to be in perfect condition attracting many tourists throughout the year.

Quinta da Regaleira

Quinta da Regaleira is a large property including a palace, a chapel, a park, fountains and lakes. The property has seen many owners over the centuries since 1697 and at the end it was re-designed in the 20th century by Carvalho Monteiro who was influenced by the revivalist Neo-Manueline movement of the time. This influence can be definitely seen through the gothic façades, pinnacles and gargoyles within the property.

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Bought by the Sintra Town Council in 1997, the property remains quite unique. While Sintra feels like a world away from Lisbon, Quinta da Regaleira makes you feel like you just stepped into a different planet. It is too many things at once: vast, gothic, green, historical, natural, artistic. Namely it is other-worldly.

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The Moorish Castle

Constructed during the 9th century by the North African Moors who conquered the town and the Iberian peninsula, the castle was restored by King Ferdinand II in the 19th century. Preserving its medieval appearance, the castle can be actually seen from Gibraltar given its location. A strange fact is that the castle itself housed the prison of Gibraltar until 2010.

The Castle of the Moors, Sintra, Portugal

As it displays a completely different era and Islamic culture, the Moorish Castle is also another unique touristic attraction in Sintra. With its irregular walls on the Sintra Hills, the castle also offers a panoramic view of the town.

The Monserrate Palace

Monserrate Palace is yet another exotic palace in Sintra, mixing Arabic, Indian, and gothic architectural styles. This eclectic combination seems to quite fit the Sintra romanticism. Built in the 19th century, the area where the palace is located today was also home to chapels, farmhouses and gardens in the past.

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Resembling the Pena Palace, it stands out with vivid colors and picturesque details. While the palace itself is quite the scene, the park is also worth wandering around – with a lake, fountains and grottoes. Moreover, it makes a habitat for unique flowers and animals.

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Happy travels!

 

 

 

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