Sintra - Sintra guide, attractions and pictures

Sintra Travel Guide

Sintra is a pleasant town in Portugal, not far from Lisbon, famous for its romantic atmosphere, castles, palaces, and historic architecture. The town received its first historical mention in the 11th century. One of the city's most famous attractions, the Hieronymite monastery of Nossa Senhora da Pena, was built in 1507. The big, alabaster and marble altarpiece was added in 1527 on the order of King Manuel I.

Sintra is alo the location of a very important historic event, apart from being the safe haven of Christopher Columbus when he was blown off course by a gale during one of his many trips. The Convention of Sintra was signed here in 1808. This document put the first French invasion of Portugal to an end. Today, Sintra is a hub of tourism and trade and a very popular destination for many tourists in Portugal.

One of the most famous attractions in Sintra is Pena National Palace. It is located atop a hill above the town itself. A prime national monument and World Heritage site, Pena National Palace is a landmark example of Romanticist architecture in Portugal. It is also one of the Seven wonders of the country and a state residence hosting official events. Pena National Palace dates back to medieval times. It was built in honor of the Virgin Mary after her apparition was reported to have been seen.

Another important landmark in this fascinating little town is the Castle of the Moors. The castle is enclosed by a wall with a total length of 450 meters. It is very well preserved - only a little restoration was needed over time. The castle is a superb example of medieval architecture. A site in the vicinity worth seeing is the Romanesque Church of Saint Peter, also dating back to the Middle Ages. The apse and barral vault are preserved. The chapel features Romanesque designs and motifs. There is a medieval graveyard with many tombs near the church.

Regaleira Palace is a site typified by Gothic architectural elements such as pinnacles, gargoyles, and a tower shaped like an octagon. It has five floors. There is a series of hallways linking the dining room, terrace, living room, pool room, and staircase on the first floor. The second floor houses the bedrooms. The third contains a state office and servants' quarters. The other floors contain an ironing room and several storage rooms.

To complete the list of prime attractions in Sintra, Monserrate Palace and Seteais Palace are well worth a visit. Built on the initiative of Viscount Monserrate Francis Cook in 1858, the palace is a fine example of Romanticism in the area. It is a work marked by the Romantic-Orientalist spirit, with exotic decoration, bulbous cupolas, and a circular towel. The palace brings to mind English Romantic architecture and the Brighton Pavilion of Nash. Monserrate Palace is also the summer resort typically favored by the Portuguese court. Seteais Palace features neoclassical architecture, attributed to the the architect Josť da Costa e Silva. The interior of the palace has undergone various restoration works. A fresco painting with mythological motifs, attributable to the Pillement School, decorates one of the spacious rooms. Today, it serves as a top-end hotel with thirty rooms, restaurant, and golf, and it is a local tourist attraction. It is part of the country's UNESCO cultural heritage.

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