Set atop the Serra de Sintra (Sintra Mountain), it's home to historic palaces, castles and lush gardens designated as Unesco World Heritage sites.
For many centuries, the cool and humid climate enticed the nobility and elite of Portugal to Sintra for their summer holidays.
|The lush entry to Sintra with the white Town Palace in the background|
Palacio da Vila (Town Palace)
The Palace of Sintra or Town Palace as it is also know, has it's origins in the 8th century during the Moorish conquest, when Sintra had two castles - the Castle of the Moors (Castelo dos Mouros) atop the hill (now a ruin), and the Town Palace below.
The Palace was continuously inhabited from the 15th to the late 19th century by Portuguese royalty, and it's one of the best preserved medieval royal residences in Portugal.
Although nothing remains from it's original Moorish origins, the earliest part of the castle dates back to the 14th century and was built by King John I.
When Portugal became a Republic in 1910, the Town Palace became a national monument. The Palace was restored in the 1940's with the addition of old furniture from other palaces and the restoration of tile panels, and it has since become an important tourist attraction.
|A drawing of the Palace from 1509, where the conical chimneys can already be seen.|
The interior of the Town Palace
The rooms are furnished with opulent and ornate furniture, beautiful tiles and tapestries.
On the left of the above picture - top and bottom, is the ceiling of the Swan's room, in the Manueline* style, and so named because of the swans painted on the ceiling.
On the top right is the ceiling of the Galleon room, painted with assorted ships representing the Portuguese naval powers of the period.
At the bottom right is the ceiling of the Magpie room. This was named so because King John I was caught kissing a lady-in-waiting by his Queen, Phillipa of Lancaster. As a rebuke to the gossiping ladies, the King had the room decorated with as many magpies as there were women at the court.
Coat of arms Room
A photo collage just wouldn't do these images justice!
The Coat of Arms room is an amazing great room with the ceiling covered in carved gilded woodwork.
The centre shield is the royal coat of arms of King Manuel I (1495-1521), which is surrounded by those of his eight children. Surrounding those are armorial bearings of 72 noble families.
The walls of this room are totally covered in blue tiles which were added from the late 17th to the early 18th century, and depict court scenes and hunting scenes.
If you look back at the exterior photos of the Palace you will see two 33 metre high conical chimneys, and those come out of this kitchen (first photo on left)
The kitchen is huge to match the size of the palace, with sinks, wood fired ovens and roasting spits.
Built by King John I in the 14th century, it was used to prepare the royal banquets.
The coat of arms that can be seen on the bottom right photo dates back to Queen Mary I, the last inhabitant of the Palace.
The private Chapel was built during the reign of King Dinis at the beginning of the 14th century. It had a few alterations during the 15th century - the addition of the decorated ceiling of Islamic influence, the ceramic "tile carpet" and the wall frescoes featuring white doves. The frescoes were restored in the 1930's.
The tiles and the views from the Palace
Some of the beautiful old tiles in the Palace.
***A Manueline window from the Palace - this ornate building style is named after King Manuel I (1495-1521), who transformed and enriched the village of Sintra during his reign with construction.
Sorry about the photo overload, but I think the Palace deserves to be shown...
There will be more to come about Sintra in my next post.