A charming little city only 30 km from Lisbon, which lies at the edge of different civilizations and cultural influences. Magical castles, unique art pieces, stunning decorations, beautiful Portuguese mosaics – I fell in love with all the diversity of shapes and colors in Sintra.
Falling in love with Sintra
To start with, Sintra was never on my bucket list. I found out about its existence the day before I was supposed to take a flight to Lisbon. From a quick glimpse of the pictures all over the internet, I got quite surprised this place had escaped my attention for so many years.
The modern history of Sintra is connected to the Portuguese aristocracy. Nowadays, it´s and ultimate touristic destination and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, all these beautiful decorations reflect the history of this amazing place, which goes far beyond…
The first notes about the Sintra castles can be found in works of the Arab geographer Al-Bakri (XI century). The Sintra Palace was a residence of the Moorish rulers till the Reconquista in 1147, when the Christians took over the control of the city. It is unbelievable, how Sintra´s palaces and gardens combine both Arab and Christian decoration styles. You walk through the halls of the Palace of Pena and you feel you´re in a mystical castle somewhere in the Middle East. And at the same time, there are statues, icons, furniture and paintings around you, which clearly belonged to the European aristocracy. I absolutely love the Islamic decoration styles with all these tiles and colors. Sintra is like nothing else I´ve seen before.
From the late 14th century, it was a summer resort for many Kings throughout the history of Portugal. Each room is decorated differently and the tiles it is just the whole new blog post.
Sintra has several sights to visit: Palace of Pena, Sintra Palace, Monserrate Palace, Quinta da Regaleira and the Moorish Castle. We´ve only had time to visit the Palace of Pena and the Sintra Palace. However, Monserrate Palace and Quinta da Regaleira also looked amazing. There are numerous buses taking tourists up to each castle and there is also quite a waiting line for all of them, so we decided to walk from the very beginning.
As we arrived in Sintra station from Lisbon, we immediately headed to the Sintra Palace, as it was the closest one. We were there around 10 a.m: enough time to explore the Sintra Palace without huge crowds, which was one of the best parts. Afterward, we headed all the way up towards the Palace of Pena. And I should say – it was quite a walk. I think the hiking trail connecting Palace of Sintra with Palace of Pena (also the Moorish Castle) is called Ruta de Santa Maria (more or less 2 km). If you decide to walk – it´s the best way, cause walking along the road, where buses and cars drive, is super uncomfortable (it´s cobbled and narrow). The trail itself was beautiful, full of trees and plants. But again, this is when I realized why were all those people standing in a line for a bus – it was quite a walk to the top! [lol]
The Moorish Castle on the way to Palace of Pena
Inside the Sintra Palace
The Gardens of Sintra Palace
The hiking trail connecting Palace of Sintra with Palace of Pena
The Gardens of Pena