Don’t drive — parking spots are scarce. Take a train from the beautiful Rossio Station in the centre of Lisbon instead
Sintra is a town and municipality found in the Lisbon Region of Portugal. With its cooler climate among the pine covered hills of the Serra de Sintra, it once attracted Lisbon’s elite, who built the extraordinary palaces and gardens that remain there today. Before them, it was where Celts worshipped their moon god, and where the Moors built a formidable castle, so Sintra’s fairy-tale setting has clearly always bewitched us. Its heady mixture of history and fantasy has made it a World Heritage Site.
Spoilt for Choice
There are really more palaces in Sintra than can be seen in a day. Among the highlights is the Monserrate Palace, which combines Moorish and Gothic styles, with an Italian twist, and has remarkable gardens that are a dreamscape of waterfalls and tropical flora. Another is the Quinta de Regaleira, built at the close of the 19th century, which sprouts turrets and towers like glorious mushrooms. Its garden is full of mythological symbols, with statues of gods set among mysterious wells and grottoes.
The Star of the Show
Among an embarrassment of riches, the standout attraction is surely the Pena Palace. Built in the 19th century by a king who wanted his royal retreat to resemble something from an opera, it is painted in vivid colours, with the sort of pomp and mythical design that brings to mind Mad King Ludwig’s Neuschwanstein castle in Bavaria.
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