Sandra Scott Travels: Behold The Splendor of Pena Castle

Pena Palace

Pena Palace

Last week I asked: What is there to see in Sintra?

Pena Castle

Pena Palace
Pena Palace

While we were in Lisbon, John and I decided to take a half-day trip out of the city.

We had visited Sintra years ago but I was so impressed with Pena Castle that we decided to take the Sintra daytrip instead of the trips that went to the beach and/or Fatima.

They were too long.

Sintra is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered the most romantic town in Portugal.

King Manuel I
King Manuel I

The guide provided an interesting documentary on the way as we passed various sites including the impressive 11-mile Livres Aqueduct that was built in the 1700s to transport water by gravity from the mountains to Lisbon.

Sintra is a resort town surrounded by forest and where the royalty would escapee the heat of Lisbon.

There is a thousand-year old palace in the center of town.

We chose not to tour it and instead enjoyed the view and walked around the town.

The royal bedroom
The royal bedroom

There were shops that sold Portuguese tiles and yummy Pasteis de Nata, a small pastry shell filled with thick cream – a Portuguese favorite.

There is nothing quite like Pena Palace.

It is high on a hill accessed by a heart-stopping narrow, twisty road.

Bus drives need to take special training before they are allowed to drive a bus up the hill.

I’m impressed that John drove the rental car up the hill on our last trip.

Another view of Pena Palace
Another view of Pena Palace

The views are impressive.

Legend has it that King Manuel I was hunting on the mountain top and saw Vasco da Gama’s fleet entering the Tagus River on their return from India.

Pena Palace is like something out of a fairy tale.

Created at the direction of King Ferdinand II, it is yellow, white, and rose-colored in Manueline and Moorish architectural styles.

There are turrets, gargoyles, arches, colorful tiles, towers all ornately embellished.

That is on the outside.

It is surrounded by a park of forests and gardens.

Pena Palace Kitchen
Pena Palace’s Kitchen

The palace is constructed so that that it is visible from everywhere in the park.

The guided tour meanders through many of the palace’s rooms – all elegant with very ornate furniture.

King Ferdinand II left the governing of the country to others so he could devote his time to the arts; he is dubbed the “Artist King.”

There was an astrolabe on display.

The astrolabe is one of the inventions that made it possible for the “Age of Discovery” to take place as it was a more accurate way to determine distance and location.

The End of Europe
The End of Europe

It was exploration that made Portugal one of the riches countries in Europe in the 15th century.

Pena Palace is one of my favorite buildings.

On the way back to Lisbon, the bus stopped for a hazy look at Cabo de Roca, the western most point of Portugal and mainland Europe.

We made another stop to see the sunset.

Our last stop was at Boco do Inferno (Hell’s Mouth).

Boco do Inferno
Boco do Inferno

It is best seen in the winter or during a storm when the tide is high when the ocean waters are funneled through a narrow opening into a collapsed cave making a “devil” of a sound.

The “devil” was sleeping when we stopped – the tide was out and the ocean was calm.

Cabo do Roco and Boco del Inferno are near the seaside city of Cascais which is where we stayed 20 years ago.

I was impressed with the changes.

Now there is a paved walkway from the city along the ocean to the sites.

Travel Trivia Tease™: What is a pousada?

Look for the answer next week.

Sandra and her husband, John, have been exploring the world for decades, always on the lookout for something new and unique to experience. We have sailed down the Nile for a week on a felucca, stayed with the Pesch Indians in La Mosquitia, visited schools in a variety of countries, and — to add balance to our life — stayed at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Let the fun continue!