Sintra, a town situated in the Lisbon region atop the Sintra mountains, has contributed hugely to the Portuguese heritage in buildings and monuments over the history of the country. In 1995, the city was classified World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Most famous for its many XIX century romantic architectural palaces, it has become a favourite destination for tourists visiting the Lisbon region, or even Portugal in general.
PALÁCIO NACIONAL DE SINTRA
Oldest palace in Portugal, the first reference of the Palace comes back from the X century during the Moorish presence over Portugal. The monument then turned into Portugal’s hands in 1147 after the conquest of Lisbon by Alfonso Henriques.
The building, as it stands today, dates back from the XV – XVI century, especially thanks to King John I, who ordered most of the construction work of the palace as we know it today.
The palace suffered during the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 which resulted in many restorations work. It has been used as a residence by Kings from the reign of King John I until late XIX century.
In 1910, it became a national monument for Portugal.
CASTELO DOS MOUROS
(Photo courtesy of Sylvie Montagnac)
The castle of the Moors is a hilltop medieval castle built by the Moors in the VIII – IX century. Important strategic point during the Reconquista (711-1492), the Force of King Alfonso Henriques take control of the castle in 1147. By 1383, its military importance has diminished and the chapel ultimately got abandoned in 1493.
Just like the National palace of Sintra, the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 damaged considerably the monument wich prompted reconstruction work.
It is also, classified as a national monument.
PALÁCIO DE MONSERRATE
One of the most beautiful architectural and landscape of Romanticism in Portugal. A palace that combines Gothic, Indian, Moorish influences and a 33-hectare garden. It all started in 1540, when a chapel is constructed dedicated to Our Lady of Monserrate. After the earthquake of 1755, Gerard De Visme rent a then farm in 1789 and constructed a palace on the ruins of the chapel.
The Englishman, William Beckford, is credited to be the person who initiated the construction of a garden in 1793. Another Englishman, Francis Cook, acquired the property and renovated the palace and the garden.
In 1949, it became the property of the Portugal establishment, and in 2010, underwent major restoration work.
QUINTA DA REGALEIRA
One of the most enigmatic monuments in Sintra, the Quinta Da Regaleira, or “The Palace Of Monteiro the Millionnaire”, nicknamed after his former owner; will astonish you by the palace architecture but also the interesting park surrounding it.
A luxurious 4 hectares park featuring lakes, grottoes, wells and fountains. Portuguese entomologist, Carvalho Monteiro has the credit of the transformation of this unique place between 1898 and 1912.
After his death, the estate changed hands a couple of times.
But in 1997, the premises are acquired by the Sintra town council and open to the public in 1998. In that year, the estate is classified as “public interest property”.
PALÁCIO DA PENA
One of the finest examples of XIX century Portuguese Romanticism and one of the seven wonders of Portugal, Pena Palace is the number one destination in Sintra.
Standing atop of the Sintra mountains, the construction started in the middle ages time with the building of a chapel dedicated to “Our Lady Pena”. For centuries, between 1495 and the XVIII century, Pena was used as a monastery housing only monks.
The devastating earthquake of 1755 brought the Monastery into ruins. It remained untouched for so many years, until 1838, and the purchase of the monastery plus the 85 hectares park by Don Fernando II, who decided with Queen Maria II, to build a palace as a summer residence for the Royal family. The construction lasted between 1842 and 1854.
After the death of Don Fernando II in 1895, the Portuguese State acquired the park and the palace.
Following the Republican revolution in 1910, The Pena palace is classified as a National monument and transformed into a museum. It quickly became one of the most visited monuments in Portugal up until this day.