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Summer retreat of the Kings: Sintra (Lisbon)

 

In the 12th century, Dom Afonso Henriques, the first King of Portugal, captured Sintra’s  Moorish Castle, and his successors later built their summer residence in this mountain town outside of Lisbon.

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Sintra National PalaceThe Sintra national palace is unique among the royal medieval palaces in Portugal, mostly for it twin huge chimneys soaring from its center. Beginning with the nation’s first dynasties, Sintra was one of the preferred places of Portuguese kings and queens, although the palace owes its existence to an initiative of King Dom João I, who rebuilt the older palace, and Dom Manuel I, who enriched the building’s decorative character and added a new wing.

The interior decoration is remarkable, a masterpiece of various artistic styles that depended on the respective tastes of the kings and queens who lived here, and carried out in such elaborate way as to give different names to the various rooms. In particular, the attention of visitors is drawn to the Sala dos Cisnes (Swans’ Room), the Sala dos Brasões (Armory), the Sala das Pegas (Magpie or Reading Room) and the chapel.

 Pena National Palace: Sintra’s fantastic Palácio da Pena is one of the best examples of 19th-century Romantic revivalism in Portugal.  Set at the top of the Monte da Pena, the palace was built on the site of an old monastery belonging to the Order of St. Jerome. It was the dream royal Regent Dom Fernando of Saxe Coburg-Gotha, who married the queen Dona Maria II in 1836. After falling in love with Sintra, he decided to buy the convent and the surrounding land to build a summer palace for the royal family.

The king consort adopted Portuguese architectural and decorative forms for the palace, which he built according to the revivalist taste (Gothic revival, Manueline revival, Moorish revival, Renaissance revival), and, in the surrounding area, he decided to make a magnificent woodland park in the English style, with a wide variety of exotic tree species.

The interior of the palace is still decorated in the tastes of the kings and queens who lived there, and its great highlight is the chapel, where it is still possible to see a magnificent alabaster altarpiece attributed to Nicolau Chanterenne (one of the architects of the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, in Lisbon). Special reference should also be made to the painting of the walls with a trompe l’oeil effect and the azulejos.

Want to be a noble? Stay at the nearby five-star Tivoli Palácio de Seteais palace - a masterpiece from the  18th century. The beautifully decorated rooms with furnishings of extraordinary wealth and the ballrooms with their rich tapestries and incredible frescos make this hotel something quite unique and every event or stay becomes an unforgettable experience.

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