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Pena ....what a Palace....

The town of Sintra is an interesting place with a history that goes back to before history as we know it existed. It´s attraction has always been the climate which accommodates a wealth of hunting, fishing, agriculture and vineyards. This comes about because the hills all around Sintra, and their proximity to the atlantic ocean, create a micro-climate that is cooler and wetter than the capital city of Lisbon, which is only 28 kms to the east. During the Middle ages the area around Sintra was favoured by the Portuguese Royal family and the wealthy nobles of Lisbon as a cooler summer retreat from the oppressive heat of the city. Owing to the fertility of the land in the area, many convents and monasteries also constructed residences, estates and vineyards around Sintra. In 1511 King Manuel 1st ordered that a monastery be constructed on the highest peak. This was named the monastery of Our Lady of the Rock (Nossa Senhora da Pena). Unfortunately during the 1755 major Lisbon earthquake the monastery was reduced to ruins and it lay untouched for decades. That was until King Ferdinand 11 bought the lands around Pena in 1838 and decided to build a Summer Palace around the ruins of the monastery. He employed a German architect to help him design and build the Palace as it stands today. Its most striking feature upon completion in 1854 was the bright colours used. The old palace above the monastery was painted a bright shade of pink and the brand new wing a yellowish ochre. The Palace was used by Portuguese Royalty until the Republican Revolution of 1910 and was where the last queen of Portugal (Queen Amelia) spent her last nights before leaving the country in exile. The Palace then became a museum, and although the interior furnishings remained the same, the outside colours faded away and for many years the Pena Palace was just a plain grey colour. In 1994 it was decided to repaint the Palace in it´s original colours and it soon became the biggest tourist attraction in Portugal. I am so pleased that I decided at the last minute to spend the few extra euros and go to see this amazing Palace. It will remain, alongside the village of Oia on Santorini, as one of the most enduring memories of this years travels.....

the township of Sintra is built on the hillside

the township of Sintra is built on the hillside


then climbs up 500m to the peaks

then climbs up 500m to the peaks


upon which sits the Pena Palace

upon which sits the Pena Palace


Built in the 1840s

Built in the 1840s


by order of King Ferdinand 11

by order of King Ferdinand 11


inspired by Castles on the banks of the Rhine

inspired by Castles on the banks of the Rhine


first entrance to the courtyard

first entrance to the courtyard


then through a second gate

then through a second gate


which leads into the palace itself

which leads into the palace itself


and camera heaven

and camera heaven


fabulous buildings

fabulous buildings


decorated with exotic mythical creatures

decorated with exotic mythical creatures


and gargoyles

and gargoyles


terraces

terraces


and battlements

and battlements


with views

with views


all the way to the Atlantic coast

all the way to the Atlantic coast


entry into the living quarters

entry into the living quarters


the royal dining room

the royal dining room


is a small intimate space

is a small intimate space


ornate vaulted ceilings throughout

ornate vaulted ceilings throughout


a variety of small drawing rooms

a variety of small drawing rooms


and the main hall with enormous chandeliers

and the main hall with enormous chandeliers


and a dozen large seating areas

and a dozen large seating areas


with their own special candelabras

with their own special candelabras


part of the kitchen area

part of the kitchen area


must have had a few kitchen staff

must have had a few kitchen staff


the small chapel

the small chapel


with its mahogany choirstalls

with its mahogany choirstalls


view from the Queens terrace

view from the Queens terrace


which overlooks most of the Palace

which overlooks most of the Palace


elements of Moorish design

elements of Moorish design


Looking back on the way out

Looking back on the way out


after an amazing 3 hour visit

after an amazing 3 hour visit

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Portugal

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