fairytales in Sintra

Sintra Travel Blog

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Candy palace Pena.
So far I have described the morning of my day in Sintra. Here comes the afternoon. I had visited the National Palace in town and walked up the mountain to the Moorish castle on top. From there I would continue my journey, deeper into Sintra national park.

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.
A beautiful view from the Pena palace.
And walking makes me feel satisfied when I reach my destination. But let me not linger. On to Pena.


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.
The dark fantasy Regaleira.
Another unique palace.

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.
The Well of Initiation.
The slope is covered with little towers, bridges, lakes, waterfalls and caves and grottoes that are secretly connected to all parts of the garden. There are holes in the ground, Wells of Initiation, that are connected underground by unlit tunnels to grottoes with names like Grotto of the Virgin and Fountain of Abundance.

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.
Koralifix says:
Nice description and great photos!
Posted on: Feb 23, 2009
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Candy palace Pena.
Candy palace Pena.
A beautiful view from the Pena pal…
A beautiful view from the Pena pa…
The dark fantasy Regaleira.
The dark fantasy Regaleira.
The Well of Initiation.
The Well of Initiation.
Angry Triton!
Angry Triton!
Pena Palace.
Pena Palace.
Pena Palace.
Pena Palace.
Pena Palace.
Pena Palace.
The entrance to Pena Palace. Feels…
The entrance to Pena Palace. Feel…
Pena Palace clocktower.
Pena Palace clocktower.
A playground for children and grow…
A playground for children and gro…
A playground for children and grow…
A playground for children and gro…
Ready for rebirth?
Ready for rebirth?
Sintra
photo by: Vikram