The castles and palaces of Sintra
Sintra Travel Blog› entry 4 of 8 › view all entries
July 3rd, 2008 – by: Jeroenadmiraal
I visited this town completely on my own, and in doing so, awakened a deep feeling of exploration and adventure inside me. In the evening I returned to my parents with a big grin on my face, knowing what I had seen and they had not.
On this bright sunny day I left early and took the train to Sintra. This little town lies next to Sintra national park, a beautifully hilly forested land, and some of its sights lead you into this park. Sintra itself lies on the slope of a hill, hidden in a lush forest and surrounded by mountains (being a Dutchman I call every hill a mountain).
In and around small Sintra, on top of the hills, various rulers and peoples have built the most extraordinary palaces and estates, too many to visit in a single day. I will describe the sights of Sintra one by one.
1) Sintra National Palace. This is probably the first thing you visit when you enter Sintra. While you are walking all the way around a valley to reach the town, its two recognizable chimneys are always visible. On the way, you will pass many weird sculptures, exhibits of a sculpture museum down in the valley.
It is an old palace that reminded me a little of the Topkapi palace in Istanbul, but it is not that big. You can take a tour through the palace, which is quite nice from the inside. Every room has its own theme on the ceiling, like the "room of the swans" or the "room of the ships".
2) The Moorish Castle (Castillo de los Moros). From Sintra, you can take an exhilarating 4 km walk to the top of the mountain next to the twon, and visit the remnants of the Moorish Castle. Yuo will walk through a wonderfully peaceful forest, shady and dark in the bright sun. Look around you on your way to the top, and you will disscover ancient overgrown walls and towers. Signs of the castle up ahead, still invisible.
The castle itself is absolutely breathtaking. You walk over the walls and once in a while you look behind you, and see miles and miles of Portugal appear behind the crumbling ruins. You can see all the way to the ocean and see all the little villages as spots on the flowing land. Then look above, in front of you, and the walls of the castle continue upwards is a dizzying way. This must be one of the most awesome castles in the world to visit, if only for its location.
From the towers, I saw the kitsch colors of my next destination: the Pena Palace. Standing on top of the next mountain, still deeper inside the national park. But I will continue the journey in my next entry. Sintra is too much to describe in one sitting.
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!