by Barbara Schafer
When we went to Sintra for the first time, we took buses from Cascais all the way up to the beginning of the Palace trails. Then, we walked up the VERY STEEP pathway/stairway to the Pena Palace itself. We wandered about, just looking at the sights. I had expected it to be beautiful, but I didn’t expect the magic. The area has a history stretching back centuries; the Palace was built over a period starting in 1842 and lasting until 1854. Originally, it was lived in by the royal family, but in 19th century it was purchased by the Portuguese state, and after the revolution of 1910 it was transformed into a museum. Over time the colors faded but at the end of the 20th century, the palace was repainted and the original colors were restored. It’s now the most popular destination for day-tripping tourists coming out of Lisbon. (before COVID19 times).
Our purpose of our trip, was simply to figure out how to get to Sintra and see what it’s like to be up on the mountain. We can see the same mountains from Cascais. By Washington standards they are really just hills but they tower over the seaside villages along the coast. The Celts, the Romans, the Moors and finally the Portuguese lived in fortified towns at the top of high places where they could defend themselves from enemies of all kinds. We’ve seen fortifications in other places, but never have we seen anything like this amazing Palace.
The pictures will give you a glimpse, but you really need to stand in the clear air and look out to sea to capture the sense of being at the top of the world. The colors, the textures, the tiles and the archways… it a circus of light and passion. You must go and see it!