Friday, 3 November 2017

Portugal - Pena Palace, Sintra

We arrived by car and parked in one of the free parking areas a few hundred metres from the Pena Park entrance,  bought our tickets - 11,50€ (adults) and 9€ (from 6 to 17 years and seniors). The palace and park is open from 10am to 6pm. (If you visit two or more palaces you can get a cheaper combined ticket).

The Palace is located within a huge park with 85 hectares (210 acres) of forest and gardens, and both the park and the palace are Unesco World Heritage since 1995. The palace was built in such a way that it is visible from any point in the park, and the fact that it's built on the Sintra hills at the height of 500mt means it's also visible from the town below and from from areas further away.
Expect to see lots of people at this palace as 2,5 million people a year walk through it's rooms!! (A genuine statistic).

Originally a Monastery, it was purchased in 1838 by Fernando II, (Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha) an Austrian Prince who was the Portuguese Queen Maria II's second husband.

With the help of the German Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege who was the architect and landscape designer, between 1838 and 1850, they proceeded to renovate and extend the palace. Unlike his cousin King Ludwig II who built the Neuschwanstein Castle, Fernando II was influenced by the Portuguese maritime explorations and the Manueline and Moorish styles of architecture, turning this into a colourful fairytale palace. 

The Gardens

On the long climb through the gardens to the Palace we saw a big lake with a tower in the middle and some ducks too, a greenhouse, an Arab pavilion with a fountain and an interesting tree that bent all across to the other side of the pathway.
A whole day could be devoted to the gardens....but we had to climb on.

The Palace

Finally we reached the Palace - there is plenty to admire, from tiles to elaborate windows and doors and the various styles and colours.                                            

Various views of the Palace
The Triton Gate - representing the Creation of the World with the mythological figure of Tritan, half man, half fish.
Through the gate you have a terrace - The Patio of Arches - from where the Castle of the Moors can be spotted. Turning back, on the wall facing the patio is an imitation of a window from the Convent of Christ in Tomar (about 140km north of Lisbon).

Triton Gate
Patio of Arches
View of  Castle of the Moors seen from the Patio of Arches at Pena Palace, and Sintra town below
The original Manueline window at the Convent of Christ and similar window at the Pena Palace on wall facing the patio
The rooms

Inside there were plenty of people that made the walk through the rooms slow and "people free" photography almost impossible!
The Dining Room - former refectory of the monks, was converted into the private royal family dining room. The original 16th century ceiling has vaulted arches and the walls were covered with tiles from the 19th century. The oak furniture was original and made in 1866. 

After the death of Queen Maria II, this was Ferdinand II and the Countess of Edla's bedroom.  After 1890 it was Queen Amelia's bedroom. The walls and vaulted arches are decorated in Moorish style.

This small room was the Atelier of the Countess of Edla. The furniture displayed here is made in papier-mache with mother of pearl inset.

And have a look at this magnificent adorned ceiling that drops on the corners. This yellow room with bed and little sitting area was the bedroom of Queen Amelia's lady in waiting.

A tea room at the time of Ferdinand II, became the telephone room during King Carlos reign. There was a strange looking cupboard with green doors ... The telephone is not the original one though.

The Arabic room intricate ceilings
The Great Hall was where receptions were held in Ferdinand's time.
The light pink walls, decorated ceiling, patterned walls, torchbearers, huge golden chandelier and stained glass windows made this a really grand room. 

And lastly the Stag room with all those stags on the domed ceiling and the huge white kitchen with lots and lots of iron pans.
I saw somewhere that the Stag room is used as a function room for weddings too.

From one of the balconies we had a fantastic view all the way to Lisbon and I could even make out the 25th April bridge in the distance as well as a view to the area below where we could see there was an outdoor cafe in one of the Palace's terraces, and that's where he headed for a bit of a rest and to have a drink and a chat.

Lisbon with the 25th of April bridge (middle right)
The 3 visiting Drs with my daughter and I on the balcony
The balcony from where we could see the terrace with an outdoor cafe
Some of the windows of the Palace

After coffee it was time to leave and return home. We walked the 600mt or so that would lead us to the main entrance and then walked down the road, past the park entrance where we entered via the gardens, walking past the entrance to the Castle of the Moors, until we found the parking lot.
As we left at around 5pm, it was a shock to find out the weather had changed and it was so cold, but that is Sintra with it's microclimate.
No wonder the next day my throat was sore and another cold was starting...

Our group walking back to the car
A pretty flower I found when we were walking to the car
The Castle of the Moors (ruins) seen from the street, on our way to the car

Not far from the Palace is the Chalet and Garden of the Countess of Edla, which we didn't get to visit.
The Countess was a Swiss/American Opera singer who married Fernando II, after the death of Queen Maria II at the age of 34 when she gave birth to their 11th child. Poor woman 11 kids at 34!!!
The chalet was built in the second half of the 19th century and is a typical Swiss chalet designed as a private refuge for the couple.

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Chalet of the Countess of Edla (photo from net)

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The park, the Pena Palace (left) and the Chalet of the Countess of Elba (top right)
And so ends the visit to Sintra. There's so much more to visit in Sintra, so hopefully I'll get to visit them in some future visit to Portugal.
Next week, Lisbon will be on the menu.
Have a lovely weekend.


  1. That tree could get a role in a horror movie! Creepy!
    Is there an explanation (like for the leaning trees in Geralton, the wind)?
    I love those bright colors and the sun adds so beautifully behind the Triton Gate, great shot.

    The dining room reminds me - oddly enough - of the kitchen of a farmer´s friend (minus the ceiling contruction, certainly).

    The yellow rooms looks dreamy...

    A telephone room! And that green is really strange.

    Bet that kitchen had seen busy times!

    Nice group pic :-)
    And the windows are beautiful.

    I´ve never seen a flower like the yellow one. Beautiful.

    11 kids at age 34!!!
    One colleague seriously asked me if I´ll have kids now that I lost my job...

    Hmmm, looking forward to the next menu!
    Have a lovely weekend, too.

    1. Thanks Iris, no I think the tree was bent on purpose to make an arched entrance into part of the garden. I was surprised with the size of the kitchen, but I suppose it had to cater to a lot of Summer visitors. Enjoy the weekend.

  2. From the first photo you showed of Pena Palace, I knew I was in for a colorful treat. And colorful it was, too.

    The gardens were lovely, and that tree was amazing. I wonder if they trained it into the arch it has now become. There certainly seems to be an arch theme to this palace, right down to the rooms and their arched ceilings.

    I know what papier-mache is, but I've never seen it made into real furniture that could be functional before. That blew me away.

    The stag room was out of this world for the sheer beauty and repetition. The copper pots in the kitchen had me swooning. I could have stayed and admired those for EVER.

    Thanks for taking me on this trip to Pena Palace. I really enjoyed it and look forward to what you have for us next time.

    1. Thanks Elizabeth, I also love the fact that Pena palace is just so different, at least on the outside. I also had no idea papier mache could be made into furniture. As for that tree I think it would have been bent on purpose as I don't think would bend that way on it's own. I think it was some sort of entrance into a different area of the garden.

  3. Wow! There is just do much to see and photograph here! The palace is so intricately detailed I wouldn't know where to look at all but you've done a great job of showing us the highlights!

    1. Thanks Christine, it's quite a different type of palace from the usual.

  4. Replies
    1. Obrigada Francisco, realmente é um palácio de sonho e adoro as suas cores e azulejos.

  5. I like the contrast of red and yellow there

  6. Dearest Sami,
    This is so beautiful that it almost looks like a dream, surreal!
    So glad you had a chance to take such lovely photos and to visit.
    Sending you hugs, I had the roughest week of my life... Monday the results from Pieter's nuclear stress test on the 25th. His heart looked really bad so the scheduled a catheterization for Thursday morning at the hospital to see if they could place a stent and do some repair. A long 2-hour wait for me and the verdict read to me by the cardiologist sounded like a death penalty. It was so hard to hear that there is nothing what they could do! His heart functions only for 27% and they only can start him on more meds, stronger ones and diuretic to slow down the lung oedema, resulting from this heart failure. So he is in God's hand and already on overtime. Lots of friends pray for him and we hope that God will grant us some more time together; however difficult it will be. Needless to say that I'm very emotional.

    1. So sorry to hear the bad news Mariette, I can imagine how distraught you must be. A big hug to you.

  7. O palácio e a vista são absolutamente deslumbrantes.
    Boa semana

  8. Love, love, love all of your photographs.
    Your first picture captures it so well.

    All the best Jan

    1. Thanks Jan, glad you're enjoying the trip.
      I also love the first photo of the castle in all it's colourful glory.

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