Monserrate – Portugal’s fancy-pancy palaces III
Location: Monserrate, 2710-405 Sintra.
Admission: Our combined ticket for four palaces (Monserrate, Sintra, Queluz and Pena) was 32,50 Euros per person.
Monserrate Palace was number three on the list, which was the final one on the day, and in my opinion the most original of the Sintra palace lot.
The Monserrate estate once belonged to the Royal All Saints Hospital and got its name from the Chapel to Our Lady Of Monserrate in 1540 , however, the most exciting architectural touches came a lot later, when it was purchased by millionaire Brit Francis Cook in 1841, a textile tycoon and antiques collector.
This sophisticated individual transformed it into his personal Arabic-Indian fairy tale.
I love passionate people.
Especially, shall need arise, they do carry my scarf.
Eclectic spirit of the 19th century. Monserrate is an example of Portuguese romanticism, blending Venetian Gothic architecture with Indian influences and Moorish trends of the time.
Mr Cook even brought back an Indian gate! (And many more collectors after him which is maybe why there are now less common in Rajasthan’s palaces and temples.)
Noteworthy, before Cook, William Beckford, at some point the richest (bisexual) man in England (who left the country in self-exile after an incident with a minor), was tenant of the estate from 1794, where he entertained his guests such as Lord Byron. Beckford largely invested in the construction of the garden, pursuing the prevalent romantic style.
He created a lush oasis, which appears slightly surreal. A nice distraction from the 21st century with its cold and soulless glass-iron-concrete structures.
The garden is a careful arrangement of the most exotic plants and colourful flowers.
I must mention the waterfalls and the fun we had with mum, exploring a maze of hidden paths.
Gardeners created a world full of walkways, ruins, viewing and resting places, botanical collections, hiding and leading to the revelations of the house.
The outdoor gardens are spectacularly pretty, the exterior design of the building included, yet architecturally the estate is designed to be swamped by the beauty of the inside.
The colour of the dome windows change, to set the mood and provide a one of a kind magical Thousand and One Nights setting.
Despite being disconcertingly dimly lit, each corridor and hall is a masterpiece of artisan design (and recent restorative works).
The presence of the inside is so strong that the exterior makes little impact after you have entered its marvellous halls and chambers.
Everything about Monserrate is perfect.
And massively tasteful.
Speaking of taste.
At that point in the day, I wasn’t jaded, but hungry. For more splendour and Sintra’s popular sweets, see you soon!