Pena Palace, Sintra, Portugal
Pena Palace figures in the list of seven wonders of Portugal; one look at the flamboyant palace and we knew why! The bright colors and amazing stone carvings take you to a different world! The 3 hours we spent there watching the splendor and grandness left us dazed.
History of Pena Palace
It is always good to know a little history! Town of Sintra is mentioned in texts that it existed from the times of Muslim occupation of the region. The Moorish Palace that existed here was taken over by the first King of Portugal in 1147. In 1493 a monastery was built by King John II. Wiki mentions – “For centuries Pena was a small, quiet place for meditation, housing a maximum of eighteen monks.” The 1755 earthquake reduced the monastery to ruins. The chapel however continued to stand strong with out much damage. In 1838 Ferdinand II acquired old monastery, all of the surrounding lands, the nearby Castle of the Moors and a few other estates in the area. Ferdinand II transformed the monastery into a palace. This Pena Palace became the summer residence for the Portuguese royal family.
Walk from Entrance
After we got off the town bus there was one more bus that takes you up the hill and down for 1.50 euros per head. We preferred to walk uphill. The path took us through the beautiful park surrounding the palace. Most of the trees were labeled. The park has a collection of 2000 different species of trees. Keep your tickets safe, they are checked at a couple of places inside.
We were greeted by ferocious looking half fish, half man statue. Once inside we crossed rooms after rooms, all left and arranged in the same way as the Kings who stayed there had left. The last queen of Portugal, Queen Amélia, spent her last night at the palace before leaving the country in exile.
The chapel here is dedicated to ‘Our Lady of Pena’, this chapel miraculously escaped severe damage and withstood the fury of nature for several centuries. The interiors are sober. The stained glass paintings had lovely depictions.
We found it hard not to linger around at some of the places. Some part of the façade is done up so beautifully with tiles. The designs are new and theme based. Interiors are done in Victorian and Edwardian styles. The ‘King’ style bedroom took our breath away. The bathroom was a room too! And the kitchen! OMG! Neat display of utensils used then. It took us a cool 2 hours to tour the interiors. You get the best views of Sintra from Pena Palace. The yellow arches through which we viewed the scenes were attractive. Almost all tourists there that day took their pics framed in these arches. We found it difficult to tear ourselves away from this.
Pena Palace, one of the grandest in the whole of Portugal!