Sintra is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Portugal, a town well known for its many architectural monuments. It is located in the hills of Serra de Sintra, part of Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais, and surrounded by woods, giving it a cool, fresh climate and a somewhat mysterious atmosphere.
Tourists from home and abroad flock to Sintra daily to visit one or more of palaces scattered around and above town, built mostly in Romantic style, inspired by art, history, mysticism and romance of historical architectural styles.
Palácio da Pena is a palace dating from the 19th century, located on a top of the hill in the Sintra Mountains.
The palace’s colorful, red and yellow facades, numerous terraces and viewing points make this palace one of the unmissable sights not only of Sintra, but of entire Portugal. If you can only dedicate a day to Sintra and have trouble choosing which of the palaces to visit, I would definitely recommend Palácio da Pena, simply because of its uniqueness that stems from juxtaposition of different styles and inspirations, playfulness and color which leave the impression of a fun, creative castle not taking itself too somberly and seriously, one in which all inhibitions of its creators have been overcome and creativity and inspiration were left to roam freely.
The palace as can be seen today was commissioned by Ferdinand August Franz Anton from Austria, who married into the Portuguese royal family and became King Ferdinand II. His wish was to build a castle inspired by those from his native Germany and he commissioned Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege to make his wish come true.
Romantic architectural style was a perfect medium through which wishes of the king came to life. It is a style very rich and varied in its inspiration: from medieval and Islamic elements and symbols, neo-Gothic, neo-Manueline and neo-Renaissance styles, to inspirations drawn, it seems, straight out of fairy tales.
Interiors of the palace are opulent in their never-ending rooms, each decorated in a different style or inspiration. Special treat, however, waits upon exiting the palace to one of its many terraces and viewing points: these are a fantastic way to get some fresh air and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding area, landscape and other castles and palaces of Sintra in the vicinity.
Seen on a bright, sunny day, when the colors of Pena Palace’s facades shine bright and clear, contraposing its reds and yellows to the deep blue of the sky and dark green of the landscape, this palace looks like a colorful product of someone’s quirky dream, bringing forward thoughts of youth, playfulness and pure, uninhibited creativity.