The adventure of being a Portuguese #Sintra
Sintra is definitely one of those cities that should be visited at least once in a lifetime. The city is like a living tale and is known for its beautiful landscape. Castles, spacious and aristocratic gardens, small historic streets and all this, located on several hills, as large part of them, are protected by UNESCO.
For me Sintra is an interesting city worth visiting. It is a 40-minute train ride from Lisbon and provides the opportunity for a one-day excursion beyond the Portuguese capital. As a big plus for the city, I can say that in the Sintra region a separate microclimate has been formed that maintains the average temperature lower than the other places in Portugal, that is why it’s the perfect escape from the summer heat. The only negative features of the site are that it is slightly overrated and expensive (as the main sightseeing tickets total more than 50 euros). The city is always full of people, which may be normal, given that Sintra is the capital of Romanticism, as many define it.
But how does this city gain its popularity and its status of an obligatory visit?
This publication aims to introduce you to the main sights of the city, as well as the opportunity to visit Cabo de Roca (the westernmost point of continental Europe).
Table of Contents
Quinta da Regaleira
The Palace of Quinta da Regaleira is an unparalleled architectural masterpiece that has one of the most beautiful and mystical gardens in the world. Built in 1904 by the Portuguese millionaire Carvalho Monteiro and designed by the Italian architect Luigi Manini, it became one of the most visited tourist attractions in Portugal.
The whole project is built and depicted in various ways combining Gothic, Romantic, Renaissance and Masonic styles. The place itself has an interesting and mysterious atmosphere, which is accompanied by even more interesting installations and symbols such as a large lake, towers, a chapel, caves, tunnels, etc. But the most famous landmark which you are surely familiar with at least from the Internet, but perhaps you did not know is here, is the well of dedication.
They are two, one is considerably smaller than the other, the bigger one is the more famous. You can go down the stairs to the lower part, where underground cave tunnels begin to take you to different places of the garden. It is interesting to note that the well itself has the shape of a reversed tower and has nine platforms believed to directly depict the nine circles of hell. At the very bottom of the well there is a compass on the Cross of Knights Templar, pointing to the east, which is once again believed to have unusual meaning, namely its direction means “seeking the eternal light“.
For me this touristic attraction was the most attractive because what you see here can be seen in very few places around the world.
October – March: 9:30 – 18:00
April – September: 9:30 – 20:00
Adult 18-64: 10 euros;
Adult tickets over 65: 5 euros;
Tickets for children 6-17: 5 euros.
Castelo dos Mouros
The Mauritanian castle is the archaeological and historical wealth of Sintra. Founded in the 9th century by the Moors (North African Muslims) with the strategic goal of observing everything around. As its location is on one of the highest hills, the fortress walls have wide and beautiful panoramic views of Sintra and the adjoining suburbs, including in good weather you can see the Atlantic ocean shores.
The castle has passed through the hands of several rulers as the next, who captured the place were the Vikings or also known as the Crusaders in the 12th century, and eventually fell into the hands of the first Portuguese king, Anfonas I the Conqueror.
Over the years, the castle has been abandoned because it has not played such an important role for the Portuguese as for the Moors. Over time, the state of the historical site has been getting worse, all of which hastened with the fire that has struck it, and the great earthquake that swept all over Portugal in 1755.
All this changed during the reign of King Ferdinand II, who built the Pena Palace in the immediate vicinity of Mauritania Castle. As a lover of art, he found beauty in the abandoned castle and decided to restore it, which return it back to life. In the twentieth century, final restorations were made as part of the celebration of the founding of Portugal. Archaeological excavations continue until today and archaeologists have discovered a Christian cemetery and many artefacts on the site that are displayed in the castle.
The castle can be reached by car, following signs, bus number 434 or on foot. I recommend that you walk down to experience the atmosphere of the city in its full brightness;
Wear comfortable sneakers because we are talking about a hilly place;
April – October: 9:00 – 20:00
November – March: 10:00 – 18:00
In the period April – October:
Adult tickets: 8 euros
Tickets for students and pensioners: 6.50 euros
In the period November – March:
Adult tickets: 6.50 euros
Tickets for students and pensioners: 5 euros
When purchasing the ticket online you have a discount of 5%;
Palácio Nacional da Pena
Pena Palace, the jewel of Portuguese tourism. Undoubtedly this is the most visited place in the country and for a reason! The palace has no equivalent anywhere in the world. Located at 500 meters above sea level, it is easily visible from different points.
The history of the place dates back to the 12th century, when a chapel was built here in the name of Our Lady. Over time, the chapel grew into a monastery that seized people through meditation. In the 18th century, the Monastery of Pena was severely destroyed by lightning, but the greatest damages were caused by the powerful earthquake in 1755.
The current castle was built in the 19th century upon the request of King Ferdinand II. Its architecture is a mixture of Gothic, Manuelin, and Moorish style that is impressive with its bright colors and interesting shapes. Hans Christian Andersen calls it “the most beautiful place in Portugal“.
Walking around the palace you will notice a very rich collection of different symbols on the walls and towers. They mostly depict the relationship between the ocean and the earth, and an example of this is the “terrifying” triton sitting in the clam, placed at the gate when entering the real part of the palace.
Once you enter the palace, you teleport into another era – the King’s one. The interior has been crammed to the last detail, showing an educational way how people in this class of society lived. You will have the opportunity to go through most of the palace’s rooms and observe the exquisite elegance of all forms – utensils, statues, textiles, etc. But the real thrill for me was to see through the windows of the palace the amazing view that opens to the woods in the vicinity and the ocean at the bottom of the landscape.
The palace was unusual for its time and gives a clear idea of the notions of life in that era, for which, no matter how much we are talking about, it is not so far from us, but there is still a big difference with today’s understanding. The palace has a large park which you need to pay for. (since I did not have the physical time to visit it, I visited only the real part – the palace).
You can get to Pena Palace on 434 or as I did – walking through the historic paths that are favorable;
April – October: 9:45 – 19:00
November – March: 10:00 – 18:00
April – October: 9:30 – 20:00
November – March: 10:00 – 18:00
Ticket only for the palace:
Adult: 14 euros
For young people under 18: 12.50 euros
For adults over 65: 12.50 euros
Family (4 people): 49 euros
Ticket only for the park:
Adults: 7.50 euros
For young people under 18: 6.50 euros
For adults over 65 years: 6.50 euros
Family (4 people): 26 euros
The visit to the place will take around 3-4 hours;
Cabo da Roca
How do you feel about going to where the world ends? Exciting, isn’t it? And also I reacted so when I heard about Cape Da Roca, the westernmost point of continental Europe! A stone nose in translation. The place is indescribably beautiful, and about the emotions – I have no words to describe them. I stood and figured out how to get there at sunset in order to be one of the last in Europe who said good-bye to the sun.
Cabo Da Roca is a height of 140 meters above sea level, on which a site with obelisk is placed with the geographical coordinates of the nose. Here is also the largest lighthouse in Portugal, built in 1722 with a height of 22 meters.
From here, except that you can watch the endless Atlantic Ocean, you can see the massive slopes with small beaches between them. The views are indispensable, and the thrill is unique, the place just needs to be visited in order to be felt for real!
Cabo da Roca can be reached by bus 403 from Cascais or Sintra railway stations;
The road takes about 40 minutes one direction and the ticket price is between 4-5 euros one way;
There is a souvenir shop where you can buy a certificate for the achievement that you have reached the end of the world. It is stamped with a red wax seal and printed in baroque letter paper, its price is 11 euros;
I strongly recommend you to visite this place because it is the most western point in Europe and because it leaves amazing emotions and memories;