fairytales in Sintra
Sintra Travel Blog› entry 5 of 8 › view all entries
July 4th, 2008 – by: Jeroenadmiraal
From the Moorish castle I could see my next destination: the Pena Palace (Palacio de la Pena). So, on foot I descended the mountain of the castle, and ascended the mountain of Pena. I was quite exhausted when I arrived at Pena, and then discovered I could have taken a bus from Sintra, that would have brought me to the castle and to Pena and back again!
Well, I don't regret having walked. The scenery was great and Pena has its own park, complete with all sorts of exotic foliage... sequoia trees and so on.
3) Palacio de la Pena is a ridiculous building. It looks unreal, like a fairytale or an amusement park building, fit to stand in a Disneyland entertainment park. The palace is a haphazardly stitched together amalgamation of European and Moorish buildings, and painted in bright kitsch colors. Apparently, this type of architecture is a certain style, belonging to a certain period of Portuguese history.
And apparently, many Portuguese lords have lived here. Some have added decorations, such as a taunting sculpture of the god Triton above a gateway. Under the scrutinizing glance of this Triton I had lunch, buying myself another one of those delicious pastries. Then I took the bus back to Sintra.
Now, on the slopes of the mountain near Sintra, there is another attraction.
4) Quinta da Regaleira. Once a house of Lord Byron, if I'm not mistaken. This was the final sight I could squeeze into my daytrip to Sintra. It looks a bit eerie and gothic. Nothing like the stately National Palace and the candylike Pena. There is a feeling of the mystic draped over Regaleira, and all its surroundings are infused with this mood. And on purpose!
Its builders wanted to make the estate a dark, mythical fantasyland. A perfectly designed Garden of Eden, suffused with mythical themes and influences. A kindergarten of the grown-up Portuguese aristocracy, where they could chase eachother playfully (often naked, no doubt) through labyrinthine scenery. It looked painfully idyllic.
I walked through the huge estate, and felt as if I was entering some initiation quest of darkness and rebirth.
Those were the four adventures in the little town of Sintra. There are two or three more palaces to visit, deeper inside Sintra national park, but I was exhausted. I headed back home and had duck for dinner in Lisbon.
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