A masterpiece of nineteenth-century revivalism, the Palácio Nacional da Pena is one of the most evocative tourist attractions in all of Portugal: let's discover it together
It is a place full of charm, where history and art intertwine, giving life to what is considered one of the seven wonders of Portugal: we are talking about the Palácio Nacional da Pena, a suggestive castle full of colors from which you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the city of Sintra. For tourists, it is one of the most beautiful attractions in the whole region, which is absolutely worth a visit. Let's discover its beauties.
Palácio Nacional da Pena, history
Among the most fascinating architecture in Portugal, there can only be the Palácio, as the locals call it: this majestic castle with bright colors stands on a spur of rock, above the city of Sintra, of which you have a wonderful view.
In fact, from up here the gaze goes as far as Lisbon and the Atlantic Ocean, giving a real emotion to all tourists. This is a magical place, and it is already evident from its history: in medieval times, the top of the rocky promontory was occupied by a chapel built following an apparition of the Madonna.
A monastery was later erected there, which after a few centuries was heavily damaged by a lightning storm and completely destroyed by a terrible earthquake. The property, now characterized only by some ruins, was purchased in 800 by King Frederick II, and his wife decided to give him a gift by designing here the construction of a castle. The result is a true masterpiece of revivalist architecture, which over the centuries has welcomed royalty and important personalities. Today the Palácio has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and for tourists it is an unmissable stop.
What to see at the Palácio Nacional da Pena
Visiting the Palácio Nacional da Pena is an incredible experience and not to be missed: it is like taking a dip back in time, among majestic rooms and original furnishings that recall the nineteenth-century atmosphere. Some corners are much older, having remained intact since the construction of the previous monastery. This is the case of the fascinating cloister, the refectory and the sacristy, as well as the suggestive chapel, inside which you can admire a splendid altarpiece made of marble and alabaster.
Inside, the Palácio houses numerous rooms that collect real memorabilia, such as the kitchen equipped with original stoves and dozens of copper utensils, kept in a showcase that bears the initials of King Ferdinand II.
A wing of the castle is now used as a restaurant, and is the perfect opportunity to taste some typical specialties while enjoying the picturesque view of the city of Sintra. And in this regard, the walkway that surrounds the building is the perfect vantage point for those looking for a breathtaking view: on days when the air is clearer, you can even see the Berlengas Islands.
Finally, you can not avoid a visit to the Parco da Pena.
Built in English style on a project by King Ferdinand II, it stretches for about 200 hectares and is a swarm of forests, exotic plants and labyrinthine paths, along which some sculptural works also stand out. Nestled in the garden, there is also a chalet built for Countess Elise, the King's second wife.
Unfortunately it was almost entirely destroyed by arson, but a few years ago it was the subject of an important recovery work that brought it back to its former glory.