Palacio da Pena: A Romantic Dream in Sintra
The striking monument among the lush greenery of the Pena Park is the vibrant multi-hued Palacio da Pena in Sintra, Portugal’s favourite hillside town with various attractions.
In addition to the building’s array of pastel coloured exterior, the spectacular palace is a medley of architectural elements with its distinctive conglomeration of domes, turrets and ramparts. From its studded entrance archway, the gargoyle guarding the Neo-Manueline styled Triton Arch to the colourful cloisters and 16th century alabaster and marble retable at the chapel altarpiece, the Pena Palace is Sintra’s most prominent building, is known to enchant visitors from all over.
The construction of Palacio da Pena is a tale of history itself. The palace was originally built in the middle ages, serving as a chapel and subsequently used as a monastery whose ruins were then transformed into the current monument. During the 19th century Dom Fernando II, the King Consort, known as the ‘artist’ king had commissioned the German architect Baron Von Eschwege to construct this summer palace in Sintra. In 1910, with the declaration of the Republic, the palace was designated as a museum to preserve the royal residence.
The artistic influences from all parts of the world are clearly evident in various sections of the Pena Palace in Sintra. One of the popular rooms in tours of the Pena Palace is the Arab Room where grand trompe-l’oeil frescoes cover the walls and ceilings. It is undeniably one of the most beautiful rooms in the Palacio da Pena. The chapel alterpiece with niches depicting the scenes of Christ’s life, from birth to ascension is another impressive sight to enjoy within the palace grounds.
The spacious ballroom is a marriage of decor styles with German stained-glass windows and Oriental porcelain, guarded by life sized turbaned torchbearers with gigantic candelabra. With much visual treats, it is only fair that visitors set aside a couple of hours to leisurely enjoy the opulent royal abode.
Visitors to the Pena Palace can also enjoy a refreshing walk in the exotic park filled with flora from all parts of the world. There are towering redwood trees, tree ferns originally from New Zealand and Australia. There are also landscaped trails leading to rocky viewpoints.
Avid hikers will enjoy some of the challenging climb trails. The viewpoints include Queens’ Throne, located among gigantic boulders where panoramic views of the palace and surrounding lush tree tops can be relished. Travellers who are still keen on more sights can take a quick stroll to the nearby Moorish castles.
Palacio da Pena in Sintra is located at around 40 kms from Lisbon Downtown and is easily accessible by car through the highway, train from the beautiful Rossio station or by bus. There are also many organized tours to the Pena Palace that can be bought in Lisbon.