Sunday, 6 June 2010

The Fascinating Town of Sintra in Portugal


Brief History of Sintra

Sintra is located along the Sintra Mountains about 15 miles northwest of Lisbon, Portugal. The town is crammed full of architectural marvels ranging from Moorish palaces to lavish parks and gardens. As history describes it, Sintra was captured during the crusades and was nearly destroyed.

The Sintra Castle of the Moors suffered the most damage by the crusaders. In the end, there were only four square towers, the battlements, and the ruins of a Romanesque chapel.

When Christopher Columbus sailed for the Spanish Crown in 1492, he was blown off course by gale force winds and fearing for the survival of his ship, spotted the Rock of Sintra. Despite the awkwardness of seeking safe harbor in Portugal, Columbus had no choice under the circumstances and sailed from there into the Port of Lisbon.

Around 1507, the Hieronymite monastery of Nossa Senhora da Pena was constructed by Diogo Boitac. Later, that monastery would be incorporated into the oldest palace in the world inspired by European Romanticism.

During the Peninsular War in 1808, the Convention of Sintra was signed to allow the French to leave Portugal without enduring any further conflict.

What to See in Sintra

Pena Castle

The Pena Castle in Sintra is the oldest palace inspired by European Romanticism. Created partly from a 16th century monastery, this castle boasts some of the most fascinating architecture in the world. Ferdinand II of Portugal started building Pena Castle in Sintra during the first half of the 19th century. The result was a distinctive castle with a mixture of Gothic, Moorish, Bavarian, and Portuguese styles.

Castle of the Moors


Spanning two peaks in Sintra is the Castle of the Moors, constructed sometime between the 8th and 9th centuries. The towers and castellated walls of the Castle of Sintra give way to awe-inspiring views of the countryside.

Monserrate Palace


The Monserrate Palace in Sintra was built in 1858 for Sir Francis Cook and is a culmination of Mughal inspired decorations and rounded cupolas. Tiny terraces clinging to steep slopes, and views of gardens and Sintra-Cascais National Park make this site an unbelievable architectural marvel. The palace of Monserrate was also used as a summer resort for the Portuguese court.

Sintra Nacional Palace

The Sintra National Palace is one of Portugal’s major monuments. The palace has gone through major restoration from the 13th century up until the 16th century and has several types of architectural styles incorporated into its construction. The Sintra National Palace brings together Gothic, Portuguese, Moorish, and my favorite, Renaissance styles. You will also find several striking scenes painted and sculpted from colored glass and glazed tiles.

Around the 1800’s, the architecture and surrounding cityscape's of Sintra in Portugal became a focus of European Romanticism. For that reason, the cultural landscapes of Sintra became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.

Photo Sources

Sintra (Colecçao Turismo / Tourism Collection, Nº 6)Global Treasures Sintra PortugalThe National Palace, Sintra



NICK FORD said...
16 June 2010 at 15:47  

Sintra is a fascinating place. Well worth a visit.

Richard Wing said...
16 June 2010 at 16:36  

The Pena and Moors Castles look the coolest and most interesting to me. Really awesome destinations and this article brings one closer to these regions. Cool post.

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