The Monserrate Palace lies a few kilometres west of Sintra. To make a day of it, combine a trip to the palace with visits to the Convento dos Capuchos and the Quinta da Regaleira.
A Brit Abroad
Built in the 19th century, the palace was commissioned by Francis Cook, an English textile baron, who used it as a summer retreat. Inspired by the cultures of the many countries he had dealings with, he wanted a little bit of everything in his palace, and that’s what he got. In a town not short on extravagance, the Monserrate Palace stands out for its wild eclecticism, blending Gothic, Indian, Moorish and Manueline influences in an architectural orgy.
The eclecticism extends to the garden as well, which has species from all corners of the world planted according to their geographical origin. Clever design was used to embrace the unique microclimates of the region, creating niches for thousands of exotic species. The result is one of Portugal’s richest botanical gardens. Set in the cool, blue-skied clime of Sintra, it is divine. Wander among the scents, colours, and exotic latin species names that read like incantations.
Out Of Chaos, Order
Lord Byron was among the famous literary figures to be enchanted by palace, and when you step inside you can see why. The interior mixes all these stylistic influences, and manages to emerge as harmonious, rather than chaotic. It is breathtaking: exuberant, but not over-the-top. Although it is relatively small among the palaces of Sintra, its exquisite stonework and luminous domed ceilings could hold you there for hours.
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