On this day, my daughter and I caught the 417 bus that travels from the Cascais bus station, (below the Cascais Villa shopping centre) and arrived at Sintra station, about 30 minutes later.
In Sintra we met up with the 3 Doctors visiting Portugal (2 of them working at the Clinic I work in) and we started our tour.
On the main road we walked past this 1922 Moorish influenced fountain.
On the other side of that road a lot of quirky statues peppered the pavement, and there are also a few people selling arts and crafts.
|Moorish Castle, Town Palace in the distance and various statues on the way to the Palace|
|Sintra National Palace or Town Palace|
Sintra National Palace
Our first visit was to the Sintra National Palace or Town Palace (Palacio da Vila) right in the village center. This is one of the best preserved royal palaces in Portugal and was inhabited from the early 15th century until the late 19th century. It's now a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Entry to the palace costs €9.00 for adults and seniors (over 65) and children (6 to 17) pay €7.50.
|View of Sintra from one of the arches of the Palace. The Moorish castle can be seen atop the hill|
The windows, arches, geometrical patterned tiles and interior courtyards show the Moorish links of the craftsmen who built and decorated the Palace.
Queen Amelia, the consort of the last King of Portugal Carlos I, (assassinated in Lisbon in 1908) was very fond of the palace where they used to spend their holidays. When Portugal became a Republic in 1910, it became a national monument, and in 1940 it was restored to it's former splendour.
|Top: Magpie room, King Sebastian's bedroom (16th century). Bottom: Jules Caesar room, and various items of furniture|
One of the first rooms we saw and the biggest room of the Palace, was the Swan Room. The 16th century ceiling is decorated in wood painted with 27 white swans, representing purity and fidelity and adorned by octogonal frames. The horseshoe shaped arches above the doors are adorned with green, grey and white tiles.
|The Swan Room|
The Magpie room is so named for the ceiling painted during the 15th century representing 136 magpies holding King John I motto "Por bem" (for good), and a rose on it's claws for the House of Lancaster to which his English wife Phillipa belonged. This was the room where foreign ambassadors and local dignitaries were received.
|Ceiling of the Magpie room|
The photo below shows the ceiling of the Mermaid room, the smallest division of the Palace, used as a "walk in robe". The ceiling bears the image of 4 mermaids playing musical instruments and in the middle a mermaid coming out of the sea.
The Galleon room's vaulted ceiling was decorated around the 17th century with vessels from the Portuguese, Dutch and Ottoman (Turkish) empire, who were the world's biggest maritime powers at the time.
|The Galleon Room has lots of art hanging from it's wall|
Painted in the 16th century, the Hall of Coats of Arms is the most impressive room of the Palace, with blue and white tiles covering all 4 walls depicting hunting scenes, and the golden octagonal cupola ceiling is painted with the coat of arms of 72 Portuguese noble families of the time. In the center is the Portuguese coat of arms and then the coats of arms King Manuel I 8 children (He actually had 13 children from 3 wives, so I presume those might be the children he had at the time the ceiling was designed).
Just a look at this room makes the whole visit worthwhile!
|Portuguese Coat of Arms and the one of the 8 children of King Manuel I|
The Chapel, Kitchen & Gardens
The small rectangular chapel founded in the 14th century by King Diniz I, has it's walls painted with patterns and a wooden relief geometric ceiling.
In the white kitchen those huge 33mt high chimneys dominate the huge room, with big wood fired ovens. The chimneys are the Palace's most notable and iconic exterior feature.
In the huge dining room - The Manueline Hall, a fabulous crystal chandelier dominates the room, and once again patterned tiles cover the bottom half of the room. This was the last area of the Palace to be built.
|The Arab Room with a central fountain and lots of doors leading into it|
The inner courtyard, was also tiled, and the palace had a nice garden with lots of herbs.
The beautiful windows, doors and tiles filled were just awesome.
King Manuel I decorated most rooms with multicoloured tiles specially made for him in Seville, Spain. These tile panels bear Islamic motifs lending an Arab feel to the rooms.
|Pretty Arab tiles|
The restaurant is at the end of one of Sintra's uphill cobbled lanes, across the Palace - at Escadinhas da Fonte da Pipa 2. We ate inside, but there's also an outdoor area.
Even the toilets were quite "funny" and well decorated.
|View of the Moorish Castle from the garden of the Town Castle and me and the Drs in front of the Castle|
After lunch we strolled through the village, browsed some shops, while one of the Drs went to fetch their car parked at the Station. He picked us up in front of the Palace and then we drove to the romantic Pena Palace on the hill. But that will be a story for another day...
Hope you enjoyed the visit to the Sintra National Palace.
|Map of the Palace - photo from map given to visitors when buying a ticket|
Note: Apart from the 417 bus from Cascais to Sintra, you can also take the 403 bus departing from the same spot, but doing the scenic coastal route via Cabo da Roca, the western-most point of Continental Europe, it takes 1 hour).