In all the land of Portugal, the whole expanse of Europe, Sintra stands out as one of the loveliest, rarest places that Nature’s prodigious hand has created (quota: the poet Afonso Lopes Vieira). Once the royal town of the country, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site on account of its 19th century Romantic architecture. Sintra has a population of about 30,000 inhabitants and is a major tourist attraction, with many day-trippers visiting from nearby Lisbon. Thanks to our magnificent hosts and friends from The Oslo Blog Gathering: Luis and Helena, we had this adventurous whole day trip and I’ll start with the final destination:
Like the English poet Robert Southey describes Sintra; “The most blessed spot on the whole inhabitable globe”:
A noble town surrounded by many estates and pleasant woods – an unusual geography, nestled in a stretch of hills surrounded on all sides by plain, estuary or ocean it has a subsequent climate, perhaps more typical of Northern Europe, so in that sense my wife and I felt it a bit like home:
Even more; I do understand that this verdant paradise where ornate palaces lie hidden behind tall trees and walled gardens, abounds with history and attracted romantics and fixed settlers – particularly from the Roman Period.
There are three National Palaces in Sintra:
Palácio da Vila. alias “Chão da Oliva” or the Paço da Vila de Sintra:
This is a small part from the backside and entrance to the town’s square of this Palace which after the Reconquest from the Romans, passed into the possession of the Crown and was considerably enlarged, not only in the reign of Dom Dinis – who in 1281 laid down that the conservation of the Palace should be entrusted to the enfranchised Moors of Colares -but especially in the reigns of Dom João I (1385-1433) and Dom Manuel (1495-1521).
The second; Palácio da Pena (sorry no pics), is an extravagant yet relatively modern building, erected in the 19th century in accordance with the whims and romantic fantasies of Ferdinand de Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the German husband of the then Queen Maria II. The third is Palácio de Queluz; Begun in 1747 by the Infante Dom Pedro (later to become Dom Pedro III) on the basis of a former country mansion of the Marquises of Castelo Rodrigo, Queluz Palace (classified as a National Monument) at that time began to be adapted for use as a summer seat of the Royal Family.
Surrounded by walls and several towers, it underwent various repairs, particularly in the Romantic period (about 1860), when King Consort Fernando of Saxe Coburg-Gotha restored it, afforested the surrounding areas and gave the ancient ruins new dignity.
Cabo da Roca:
“Where the land ends and the sea begin” (quota: 16th century Portuguese poet Luís de Camões); this westernmost point on the continent of Europe was known to the Romans as Promontorium Magnum and during the Age of Sail as the Rock of Lisbon. Coordinates: 38” 47′ North and 9” 30′ West – 140 m above sea level:
Once home to a variety of plant life, Cabo da Roca has been overrun with the invasive plant species Carpobrotus edulis. This creeping, mat-forming succulent species – a member of the Stone Plant family Aizoaceae – was introduced as ground cover by local residents several decades ago, but now covers much of the arable land on Cabo da Roca:
A whole day trip:
Like I said in the beginning, these are only a few of the highlights from our adventurous trip outside of Lisbon. It’s impossible to cover it all in one post – but mind you; it’s well kept in our mind along with the experience of sharing a whole day; another experience of a life time, with our hosts and precious friends, Helena and Luis. Let me just end with a couple more photo examples:
One of their favourite beach with Cabo da Roca far behind.
Lucky we, having local friends who would show us some of these traditional, historical and cultural pearls, a bit out of Lisbon too. I hope you’ve got a clue and enjoyed my résumé!