Sintra is one of the cities in Portugal with more to visit, be it palaces, museums, the castle, but also the gardens.
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Sintra, Monte da Lua, is one of those places full of magic and mystery where nature and man have come together in such a perfect symbiosis that UNESCO has classified it as a World Heritage Site.
Itinerary for one day
Whatever the plan, starting in the historic centre with an invigorating breakfast, anticipating a full day is always a good suggestion.
Right in the main square, we see the “Palácio da Vila” with its two conical chimneys, so characteristic, that they will serve as a compass to return to this meeting point. Dating from the late 14th century, it was the summer resort of many kings throughout the history of Portugal. Each room is decorated differently and has a history to know, in addition to the interior being a surprise as it is a true tile museum, with applications since the 19th century. XVI, from the beginning of its use in Portugal.
After a random walk through the narrow alleys and the shops selling regional products, we suggest a visit to the Palace and Quinta da Regaleira. It is a 19th-century palace. XIX, although it seems to be older, with impressive decoration, rich in Masonic symbolism. Very close to the entrance to Regaleira is Seteais, a 19th-century palace. XVIII currently transformed into a hotel. It is worth entering the gardens and going to the viewpoint, from where you can see the Pena Palace, the Moorish Castle and the sea in the distance …
Before starting to climb the mountain, it will be better to have lunch and choose a good restaurant in the village or have a picnic in Parque dos Castanheiros, a picnic park whose entrance is in the middle of “Volta do Duche“.
The afternoon will be dedicated to discovering the mountains and discovering the corners of a landscape that is World Heritage.
Before entering the Parque da Pena botanical refuge, passing by the Chalet of Condessa D’Edla and going up to the Palace that Richard Strauss nicknamed “Castle of the Holy Grail”, it is imperative to pass by the Castle of the Moors. It is a testament to the Islamic presence in the region, built between the 8th and 9th centuries and expanded after the Reconquest.
At the top, there is one of the most romantic palaces in Portugal, Pena, a fanciful and revivalist reconstruction, in the taste of 19th-century romanticism, which was due to the passion and imagination of the artist king D. Fernando de Saxe-Coburgo Gotha, consort of D. Maria II.
Returning to the village, if it is not done in the morning, it is imperative to enter one of the pastry shops to taste the famous “queijadas” and the pillows, specialities of choice for an evening in a dreamland.
With one day everything will not be seen in Sintra, so it will be preferable to stay longer or, possibly, organize the visit in another way, depending on availability.
In addition to other museums of interest, the Monserrate Park, with its exotic neo-Gothic palace, and the Convento dos Capuchos, built in the 19th century, deserves special mention. XVI using cork as a covering for small spaces, following the precepts of poverty of the Order of São Francisco de Assis, contrasting with the palaces that meanwhile visited. 2 km from the convent is Peninha, one of the highest points in the mountains and, already on the way to the coast, it is worth visiting the Archaeological Museum of São Miguel de Odrinhas, with an important epigraphic collection over two thousand years old.
For those who travel during the months of July and August, it will be an opportunity to attend the classical music and ballet shows of the Sintra Festival, which take place in the Palaces of Sintra and Pena and the Centro Cultural Olga de Cadaval.
Between Sintra and Lisbon, following the IC19, it is worth stopping at the National Palace of Queluz, a sumptuous century palace. XVIII in “rocaille” style. In the space of the gardens, we can watch an exhibition of the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art and appreciate the qualities of the Lusitanian horses, raised in Alter, in the Alentejo, in the old stud farm of the royal house.