Friday, July 19: After visiting the Moorish Castle, I take the Scotturb bus to visit the Palácio Nacional da Pena, or the Pena National Palace, a 19th-century Romanticist palace that stands on a hilltop adjacent to the Moorish Castle. On a clear day it can be easily seen from the metropolitan area of Lisbon, rising up like some fantasy from a thickly wooded, and sometimes mist-enshrouded, peak.
Yet another stunning place in Sintra!
Pena National Palace is a fairy tale-like national monument, with a bewildering array of onion domes, stone snakes, Moorish keyhole gates and arches, colorful tile walls, and crenellated towers in pinks and lemons. The Pena Palace has a profusion of styles in line with the exotic taste of Romanticism. The intentional mixture of eclectic styles includes the Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, Neo-Islamic and Neo-Renaissance.
The history of Pena National Palace began in the Middle Ages when a chapel was built here, Our Lady of Pena, after an apparition of the Virgin Mary.
In 1493, King John II and his wife Queen Leonor visited the site to fulfill a vow. His successor, King Manuel I, who was also fond of the site, built a monastery here donated to the Order of Saint Jerome. It was a quiet meditative place housing no more than 18 monks. In the 18th century, it was damaged by lightning and then was mostly reduced to ruins during The Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755. In the mid-19th century, King Ferdinand II fell in love with the site, and decided to build a summer palace here for the Portuguese Royal Family. Construction took place from 1842-1854.
In 1889, it was bought by the Portuguese state and has since become a major tourist attraction. Over time the colors of the red and yellow façades faded, and for many years the palace was visually identified as being entirely gray. By the end of the 20th century the palace was repainted and the original colors restored, much to the dismay of many Portuguese who were not aware that the palace had once displayed such chromatic variety.
In 1995, the palace and the rest of the Cultural Landscape of Sintra were classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It’s also one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. Of these Seven Wonders, the only other one I see while in Portugal is Belém Tower in Lisbon.
It is also used for state occasions by the President of the Portuguese Republic and other government officials. (Wikipedia: Pena National Palace).
After spending awhile here, I take the bus back into Sintra-Vila where I hope to have a little lunch and visit the Friday market near my hotel.