S for Sintra Palácio Nacional da Pena

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The  town of Sintra, Unesco-listed thanks to its extraordinary castles, palaces and country houses, is popular with Lisbon day-trippers. There is a lot of flamboyant architecture to see.

(please click on an image to enlarge)

S - sintra pena palace

The Park and Palace of Pena above the old town of Sintra  are the finest examples of 19th century Portuguese Romanticism and the integration of natural and built heritage. It is another example (along with Rossio Station in Lisbon and Count Guimaraes Palace in Cascais) of neo-Manueline style, a revival architecture of the 19th/20th centuries.


This is as far as you go if you haven’t bought the full ticket. The coat of arms above the gateway is of Don Fernando II of Portugal and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. He died in 1885 leaving the property to the Countess of Edla.


An alcove you pass on the way up to the second terrace, charmingly filled with a stone urn and lush tropical plants.


Allegorical gateway of the Creation. Half-man half-fish figure.


On your way up to the entrance you go past a lovely border of tropical planting, which all looks in much better shape than the actual Palace buildings, which I thought were rather tired and scruffy looking. I wanted to get a paintbrush out there and then!

It is a steep walk up to the Palace and you may prefer to  take the 434 circular bus route from the railway station (regular trains to and from Lisbon make it an easy day out) to the historic centre of the Old Town, the castle and Pena Palace. If you walk from the station then you can enter the lovely Parque de Liberdade.

S - Sintra parque

I went there on a very humid day in May, and found it a little disappointing. The exterior of the Palace and the Palacio Nacional de Sintra were in need of some TLC and I found the historic centre to be very crowded and it was very hot and sticky. Climbing up hill in those conditions do not suit me, but I would like to go back as there are many other sites to visit that are very interesting.

Have you visited Sintra? Did you go to the Pena Palace and Gardens? What are your thoughts?

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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

41 thoughts on “S for Sintra Palácio Nacional da Pena”

  1. “Shabby”? That’s what it’s meant to be, and as a resident of this town the shabbier the better. Otherwise go to Disneyland.

    1. Looking at photos of the site it hasn’t always been like this, the paintwork has definitely deteriorated. I’m not saying it isn’t an interesting place to visit, but it is not as colourful as it looks. And actually it is a bit Disneylandish …in a shabby way 😉

  2. Not Scarborough, then 🙂
    Like an idiot I walked all the way from the town up, with a very unhappy partner alongside. It was pretty amazing when I finally got there though.

    1. Yes, it is quite a climb up that hill! haven’t been to Scarborough in decades, though drove through a few years ago when staying in York. I once applied for a job in Scarborough, wasn’t successful though.

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