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Charms of Park and Pena Palace in Sintra

When talking about Sintra in Portugal, immediately it comes a historical time, of romanticism of its Palaces and Chalets as well as the beautiful and exotic natural landscape.

We then went on to find out more about Sintra visiting the Pena Palace and a walk by its natural Park up to the Chalet of the Countess of Edla.

We have chosen to set off from the viewpoint of Santa Eufémia. We have started on a path in a middle of granitic boulders and huge trees.

Caminhada Santa EufemiaA pathway towards the viewpoint of Santa Eufémia
Caminhada SintraThe vast vegetation nearby the viewpoint of Santa Eufémia

The viewpoint of Santa Eufémia has one of fantastic views to the Pena Palace and Sintra village and right there is the chapel of Santa Eufémia. According to stories dating from XI century, the water of Santa Eufémia had miraculous healing powers, for example against coughing. This was one of the reasons, the chapel was built having become a place of pilgrimage.

Miradouro Santa EufemiaUs and the natural landscape around the chapel of Santa Eufémia

Palacio da PenaThe Pena Palace seen from the viewpoint of Santa Eufémia

Miradouro Santa EufemiaViewpoint of Santa Eufémia
Capela Santa EufemiaChapel of Santa Eufémia

After being at the viewpoint of Santa Eufémia we have walked towards Pena Palace. The path takes approximately 10 minutes considering easy to moderate the walk. It is a way either in cement or in trails.

Caminhada Palacio da PenaThe magnitude of the trees in the walking
Caminhada Palacio da PenaPathway to Pena Palace

The famous Pena Palace represents one of the greatest arts of the world romanticism of XIX century. It is considered one of the seven wonders of Portugal and World Cultural Heritage of Humanity according to UNESCO.

The way is a bit steep, from the entrance gate at outdoors up to Palace entrance. We have opted to walk instead picking up the small bus. The pedestrian route takes about 10 minutes. The bus tickets should be ordered at ticket office if this is the option.

Entrada Palácio da PenaFacade of the Pena Palace entrance

Direções Palácio da PenaIndications to the Pena Palace Fonte Palácio da PenaA water fountain at the walkway to the Pena Palace

Caminho Palácio da Pena The Pena Palace seen at top as we walk

The Palace location is about 480 meters above sea level. It is one of the highest points of Sintra.

Its construction was ordered by D.Fernando II, a monarch of the dynasty of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha from the region of Bavaria in Germany. D.Fernando II married with the Portuguese queen Dona Maria II and he had a great passion in arts. The Palace was finished at 1847.

The Palace architecture is a combination of the Neo gothic, Neo Manueline, Neo Islamic and Neo Renaissance.

For a better visualization of the visited places in the Palace, I suggest to follow the map with the corresponding numbering in brackets throughout the text.

Mapa Palácio da PenaOutdoors sketch of Pena Palace (source of Parque de Sintra Monte da Lua)

Still yet at the exterior, we get closer at the entrance where we observe its huge walls and an architectonic facade of an Arabic arch (1).

Muralhas Palácio da PenaThe huge walls
Entrada Palácio da PenaOne of the entrances in arch Arabic shape (1)

Then we went on to the other entrance. It is called Monumental Gate (2), in architectonic Manueline style.

Porta Monumental Palácio da PenaMonumental Gate (2)

As we walk up we ended up to the Tritão (Merman) terrace (3) where we have taken a picture of one cabin with an Islamic-style dome covered with tiles (4).

Palácio da Pena visto do TritãoView of the dome of the palace in Islamic style (4)

The Tritão Portico (5), is right there. He's a scary figure, a mythical monster half man, half fish from XIX century.

Tritão Palácio da PenaThe Tritão at the upper part (5)
Tunel Tritão Palácio da PenaAt Tritão tunnel

Passing through the Tritão tunnel a scenery opens up to the Patio of Arches. It has an amazing view to the natural Park of Pena as well as the viewing to the Sintra and Cascais beaches.

Pátio dos Arcos Palácio da PenaThe arches and landscape of Patio of Arches. In the background the Sintra and Cascais beaches Pátio dos Arcos Palácio da PenaThe Patio of Arches

Nearby is the chapel of XVI century (6).

Capela do Palácio da PenaThe exterior of chapel (6) Capela do Palácio da PenaThe Interior of chapel

The entrance to the Palace’s interior is done by a door (7) nearby the Tritão terrace. As recommendation keep your entrance tickets as you are going to be asked at this entrance.

Once inside, the Manueline cloister stands out. It’s a quadrangular Patio of two floors with arches around. Their walls are covered with Hispanic-Arab tiles.

In its centre there is a plant placed in a shell of four turtles working as a base. This art came out from the idea inspired where the world had been laid over a giant turtle.

Claustro ManuelinoCloister of Manueline
Azulejos Palácio PenaHispanic-Arbs tiles

The superior floor from the Manueline cloister give access to the queen Dona Amélia terrace (8). It was the queen’s quarters of Dona Amélia, the last queen of Portugal. It has a fantastic view to the Palace as well as to the natural mountains of Sintra.

Palácio PenaFacade of one part of the Palace Palacio Pena Terraço Rainha Dona AmeliaIn queen Dona Amélia terrace

We went back into the Palace again were we have covered two main spaces, the dining room and the Nobel room.

Sala Jantar Palácio da PenaPalace’s interior: Dining room
Sala Nobre Palácio da PenaPalace’s interior: Nobel room

And so, it was our visit to the Pena Palace. Really a Palace very lush, exotic in the centre of the hills of Sintra where it has been taken us to the romanticism times.

But we don't stop here! We ended up exploring the exterior green spaces from the Pena Palace, called Natural Park of Pena.

Still yet about the Natural Park of Pena, D.Fernando II ordered to plant trees and plants brought from all over the world. As a result, the Natural Park of Pena has nowadays, a beautiful and a rich variety of vegetation and gardens.

One of the places we have visited inside of the Natural Park of Pena was the Chalet of the Countess of Edla, the second wife of D.Fernando II. From Pena Palace up to the Chalet (about 20 minutes walking), we have observed how rich the Park is, from the huge trees, pedestrian walking, a small lake and the beautiful little Bird Fountain. The Little Bird Fountain has an octagonal Arab style.

Fonte dos PassarinhosLittle Bird Fountain

Caminhada Palacio da PenaCooling walking at Park

Lago Repouxo Palácio da PenaFountain Lake
Cruz Alta Palacio da PenaA reference of High Cross
Indicações Condessa D'EdlaOn the way to the Chalet of the Countess of Edla Caminho Condessa D'EdlaThe expectation of finding the Chalet of the Countess of Edla

We continue our walking and we find out the famous and beautiful Chalet of the Countess of Edla.

From alpine inspiration, its bright yellow colour with cork decorative adornments, giving a unique romantic touch to the Chalet.

Chalet Condessa D'EdlaThe Chalet of the Countess of Edla
Chalet Condessa D'EdlaThe adornments in cork
Chalet da Condessa D'EdlaThe satisfaction reaching the Chalet
Chalet Condessa D'EdlaThe interior of Chalet

So, after this long walk the desire to eat was huge, and our choice was to lunch at Taverna dos Trovadores restaurant, right next Sintra’s market. As a positive note, the restaurant has served us beyond hours. We have ordered the following plates: Octopus lagareiro, picanha and rice of duck.

Almoço Sintra Restaurante Taverna dos TrovadoresUs in restaurant
Polvo a lagareiroOctopus lagareiro
PicanhaPicanha Arroz de patoRice of duck

The visit to the Pena Palace, the walking along its Park to the Chalet of the Countess of Edla has revealed why Sintra is Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

One can say the nature arose, offering to Sintra a magic place with a rocky escarpment of a unique vegetal beauty.

Next, the history wants to give Sintra several presents. Among them, the romanticism of the magnificent Pena Palace and Chalet of the Countess of Edla.

We hope that our experience will be inspiring to all lovers of nature, history and culture.

Thanks to Manuel Manero for blogging recommendations and the visitors for their photos permission

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Rui Vasconcelos

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