Sintra, Portugal – September 2013

October 17, 2013

Note: This is a repost because the original post landed accidentally back in draft. Still a fun read.



Everyone insisted we had to see Sintra and the magnificent Pena National Palace along with the Moorish Castle nearby.

King Ferdinand II

In the 19th century Sintra became the first center of European Romantic architecture. King Ferdinand II turned a ruined monastery into a castle where this new sensitivity was displayed in the use of Gothic, Egyptian, Moorish and Renaissance elements and in the creation of a park blending local and exotic species of trees. Other fine dwellings, built along the same lines in the surrounding hills created a unique combination of parks and gardens which influenced the development of landscape architecture throughout Europe. It is for this reason UNESCO has designated the whole area as a world heritage site called The Cultural Landscape of Sintra.

Castle of the Moors

The beautiful Pena National Palace displayed an interesting blend of Gothic, Egyptian, Moorish and Renaissance elements.

On an adjacent hilltop, the Castle of the Moors made for an interesting contrast to the Palace.  It was constructed during the 8th to 9th century, during the period of Arab occupation of the Iberian Peninsula.

Sintra do Pedro Plaza

We found a great parking spot at the Sintra do Pedro Plaza, or so we thought. This was a parking lot. We shouldn’t have been surprised that groups of young partiers had decided to gather in front of our truck. We also didn’t notice the bar and disco around the corner. By early morning hours, there had been fist fights, screaming and yelling and finally three police cars arrived to quiet things down.

The view from one of the watch towers at the National Pena Palace was spectacular.

The view from one of the watch towers at the National Pena Palace was spectacular.

As if that was not enough to disrupt our sleep, by morning we had discovered that there was an antique motorcycle exhibit and rally taking place in the adjacent parking area. I guess we are slow learners. We are starting to think about better places to park in towns.

Since our truck was hemmed in by other parked cars and surrounded constantly by people taking pictures, we hiked up the steep cobble stone road to visit the amazing Pena National Palace and the medieval Moorish Castle. Both were well worth the hike and it gave us a chance to wander through the beautiful botanical gardens, which had specimens from all over the world. The park reminded us a little of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.



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