Pena Palace in Sintra
Pena Palace in Sintra / Getty

Sintra, the Portuguese fairytale city

Sintra, near Lisbon, is such a magical place that UNESCO listed it as a World Heritage Site in 1985


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“Once upon a time…” would be the perfect start to describe a visit to Sintra, a fairytale town just a few kilometres from the capital of Portugal, Lisbon. The colours of its facades explode throughout its old town. We are going to visit a bucolic place that revolves around the Palacio da Pena and the Quinta da Regaleira.

Nature also slips through the architecture, creating an environment so magical that UNESCO listed it as a World Heritage Site as early as 1985. The cool climate made it possible for the Portuguese royal family to stay in Sintra during the summer, attracting the nobility with it. who built other beautiful palaces around the monarchical residence. So if you are considering a trip to Lisbon, a visit to Sintra is part of the duties, even if it is on the day from the capital.

Pena Palace

It is undoubtedly the most visited place in Sintra, romantic in style. The building seems to float on boulders and transports us to a dream world with its colour scheme and mixed architectural styles. At the time, the Portuguese bourgeoisie had an obsession with the exotic, which was reflected in the gardens and viewpoints.

The Palace has beautiful views of the Sintra mountains. It was erected on an old hermitage that venerated Our Lady of Pena, to whom the complex owes its name. It was on the verge of becoming ruins because, after the great earthquake of 1755, which greatly affected the structure, the religious orders that took care of the space were extinguished until King Ferdinand II bought it in 1836.

Quinta de Regaleira

Augusto Carvalho Monteiro, an alchemist and millionaire, built this marvel with the Italian architect Luigi Manini. At the end of the 19th century, they came together to surprise with a palace accompanied by one of the most beautiful gardens in the world, with underground caves, waterfalls and wells.

Those who have visited it say that the magic of the place is such that its symbols can lead to an almost mystical trance. A set of monuments between tunnels plays with light. In the north of its gardens is the Initiatic Well, with nine spiral floors that symbolize the nine circles of hell or the paradise of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy.

When to go

Sintra is wonderful at any time of the year, although it is best to avoid the high season - from July to September - to avoid the endless queues of tourists and weekends.


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