Fairy tale Palace of Pena
Just as you probably thought we were palaced out by Portugal’s fancy pancy palácios, we took on another round. On day two of our weekend tour, we drove down from Lisbon to the wonders of Sintra Hills, to see Pena Palace and Quinta da Regaleira.
A sight nothing short of a Disney castle and a rival to the Neuschwanstein castle in Bavaria, it is sitting more hidden than prominent, on top of Sintra mountain.
The Park and Palace of Pena are fine examples of 19th century Portuguese romanticism, constituting the most prominent part of the Cultural Landscape of Sintra’s World Heritage Status.
You can easily see how.
From mum’s perspective. Like her picture better.
Pena Palace is a crowd pleaser.
And a little princess’s dream.
And her mum’s, too.
If you are lucky you can spot little fairies throwing petals around.
Spoiled by an abundance of decoration, our eyes feasted on turrets, miniature minarets with Moorish domes, copulas, tall and tiny towers, dainty yards and tile arrangements, framed by coloured walls with faded shades of candy red and citron yellow.
Definitely top location.
View onto the Moorish Castle and surrounding valleys and hills.
The builders of Pena were no less than royalty.
Dona Maria II (1819-1853), the queen of Portugal and Don Fernando II (1819-1885), known as the Artist King.
Quick historical overview.
During the 12th century there was a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Pena and during the next centuries the site turns into a growing convent, until it falls into decline after the big earthquake of 1755.
The Manueline cloister is the original part of the sixteenth century monastery, decorated with Hispano-Arabic tiles (dating back to 1520).
More Manueline impressions.
Anyhow, in 1838 Don Fernando buys the monastery, following the extinction of religious orders in 1835.
This is when the fun starts.
King Don Fernando, Dona Maria ask Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege to construct the new Palace.
Wicked tea sets.
Visual illusions. This ceiling is painted, not sculptured. Not kidding.
Psychedelic dining rooms.
Allegorical gateway of the Creation. With Triton. Half man, half fish.
Chandeliers. As big as they get.
Wonderful art nouveau nudity. The atelier of King Don Carlos (he reigned from 1889-1908 and inhabited the palace at a later date with Dona Amelia), is filled with canvasses painted by himself.
Sun dial on the Queens terrace. Fitted with automatic cannon which sounded at midday.
Tiles. Some clashing, some matching.
Don Fernando dies in 1885 and the property is left to Elise Hensler (his second wife), who had became Countess d’Edla, but monarchy is slowly coming to an end and after only four years the state acquires the estate, including the lands of the Park.
In 1910 the Palace is converted into a museum. In 1995 UNESCO lists Sintra Hills (where Pena Palace and Park stand) as Cultural Landscape and World Heritage.
In 2014 PTravelers take over.
Blocking the entrance.
Keeping watch at the towers – of various shapes and sizes, which are punctuating the different levels of the terraces.
Day and night watch.
Guarding the look outs.
Looking after prisoners. Who live in small towers.
But I also make pretty flower arrangements on the pond.
Our home is our castle.
FAQs: We rented a car for two days to drive down to the Cultural Landscpae of Sintra Hills. We saw a total of four palaces without rushing about. We still had enough time to side track to experience some Portuguese infernos.
Tickets: We bought a combined ticket for Palacio National de Queluz, Monserrate, Pena Park and Palace and the National Palace of Sintra for 32.50 Euros per person.
Car rental: Two days set us back 137 Euros and another 43 Euros for gas. We chose Sixt as a car rental (absolutely happy with it – no fuss, super friendly service). The only drawback was that it took two hours to pick it up from the airport, and to get back home after the drop off, but is was the only rental I found where we could return the car by midnight on a Sunday.
WTFs: Once you buy your ticket to Pena and pass the entrance, it is still a steep climb up to the Palace – therefore a bus awaits behind the entrance gates – for an extra of 3 Euros. Not worth the short ride.
Next up, mystic Quinta da Regaleira!