The first building on the site where the Pena Palace now stands was a 12th century chapel dedicated to the local Virgin Mary called "Our Lady of Pena" and once a place of pilgrimage. In 1503 work began on a monastery sponsored by King Manuel I. After it's completion in 1511 it was handed over to the Order of Saint Jerome. This small structure was home to about 18 monks and became a centre for the veneration of the Virgin Mary. During the 1700's the monastery fell prey to lightning on a number of occasions and during the great earthquake of 1755 it sustained greater damage. The fact the structure had withstood the earthquake at all, when all around suffered such destruction, was deemed miraculous and so the site gained further notoriety. Pena continued functioning as a monastery right up to the abolition of religious orders in Portugal in 1834.
Tales of miracles on the mountains reached the young prince Ferdinand, soon to be future King consort of Portugal. In 1838 Ferdinand acquired the former Hieronymite monastery and decided not only to re-build the old structure but construct a great castle which could serve the as the Portuguese Royal residence. Parts of the old Monastery were restored including the cloisters, its outbuildings, the chapel, the sacristy, living quarters and bell tower which now forms the so called "Old Palace" part of Pena. Ferdinand employed Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege, to enlarge Pena Palace and between 1843 and 1854 Eschwege applied all the knowledge he obtained about architecture from his worldly travels.
Hyperbolling influences from past styles such as Manueline, Gothic and Arabesque the new wing, or "New Palace" contained even larger and more lavish rooms with the edition of a large circular tower. The new structure was now a complex containing four sections, the "Old Palace" with the clock tower, the yard in the front of the chapel along the wall of arches, new walls containing two gateways and the drawbridge, and the cylindrical bastion. Alas poor Queen Maria II passed away before these alterations were completed. Recently Pena Palace received a brush up, it's original exterior colours were restored, red for the former monastery and yellow for the New Palace.
Entrance into the Palace complex goes through the Door of Alhambra or the Door of The Rose located at the end of a ramp built by Baron von Eschwege on the very same route used to gain access to the old monastery. The doorway is flanked by a series of garden terraces containing flowerbeds. It's thought this doorway was inspired by the Alhambra Door of Justice, in Granada, Spain. The use of Islamic styles is strikingly evident, the Arabesque Arch is used repeatedly as is the use of Moorish styled tiles. On the tile-work in the tympanum above the open archway there are three rose roundels emblazoned on the outward facing side and one in the centre of the inward facing side. On the external facing cornerstones there are two gargoyles in the guise of crocodiles.
Once through the Door of Alhambra you'll end up in the Coach House Terrace which then leads us to the Monumental Gate which is a hodgepodge of styles and a somewhat ridiculous looking fortified portal. The diamond spikes are reminiscent of the Casa dos Bicos in Lisbon. Two decorative cylindrical bartizans topped with cupolas guard the top corners of the gatehouse with five coat of arms in-between. The rounded archway, framed by dotted ropework, eerily festooned with serpents, leads you over a fake drawbridge into the entrance tunnel and onto the residential wings beyond.
The tunnel leads to the Terrace of the Triton which allows access to both the original Monastery Wing and the newer Palace constructions. From this open space it's possible to catch sight of both the Cruz Alta cross and the Statue of the Warrior perched on their peaks in the Pena Park. The terrace is so named after the emblematic gateway which is protected on both sides by two domed towers and the half-man, half-fish creature looming down from the entrance archway. The mythological triton sits inside a giant oyster shell suspended from a window ledge, his hair morphs into the vine decoration which frame the window. His menacing gaze stares down upon those who dare enter the gateway. Entitled the "Allegoric Gate to the creation of the World" he is an allegory of the four worldly elements; earth, fire, water and air. The decoration on the arch itself is divided between the marine world below and the terrestrial world above. The inspiration for the Triton is thought to have come from writings of Damião de Góis from 1554, in which he mentions how a Triton had been spotted singing whist sat on a shell on a beach near Colares. The northern side of the Terrace of the Triton is the Monastery Wing which accessed though two 19th century galleries of overlaying canopied arches.
It was important for the designers of Pena Palace to preserve as much of the original Hieronymite monastery as possible which includes the cloisters, the dining room, the sacristy, and the Manueline-Renaissance chapel. Surrounding these elements a new terrace (Queens Terrace) was built and the clock tower was later added in 1843.
The cloisters was the central hub in the old monastery with the walls lined with ancient azulejo tiles. Originally the cloisters would have been brighter but once it was entombed into the new construction the windows were removed. The two story cloister is open to the sky and serves as the access point to the Royal Family’s Dining-Room and the Scullery, as well as King Carlos’ apartments on the lower floor and Queen Amélia’s apartments located on the upper floor.
The former monastery refectory was modified for private royal use. The King's dinning room contains a 16th century vaulted ceiling with Manueline style ribbing. The walls are lined with 19th-century tiles from the Roseira Factory. The room's oak furniture was commissioned by King Fernando from Casa Gaspar in Lisbon in 1866.
King Carlos utilised the former Chapter House and adjacent rooms for his private apartments in a somewhat modest accommodation compared to the Queens quarters on the upper floor. The King's apartments include private living quarters of his Chamberlain and Valet who were ever present at his side.
The original chapel of Our Lady of Pena remains relatively unscathed and looks fairly much the same as it had in the 16th Century. The chapel's small nave is topped with a Gothic vaulted ceiling and the walls retain their 16th century azulejo tiles.
On the southern end of the east wing the Queens Terrace was added which was directly accessed from Queen Amélia's private chambers. The main focal point on the terrace, if you can avert your eyes from the amazing views, is a sundial and solar quadrant which is rigged to a small cannon which fires at noon each day. Inscribed on the dial are the months of the year and the hours of the day. From the terrace one can get an overall picture of the architecture of the palace.
The original entrance to the New Palace was via the Calabash Stairs (Escada das Cabaças) though a doorway found beneath the Triton Arch decorated with calabashes (the symbol of the pilgrim). The staircase ascends up to the richly decorated Reception Room which was completed in 1854. The design of the room is Arabesque and is the work of the Italian scenographer Paolo Pizzi. Above the vaulted ceiling decorated with plant motifs uses tricks of perspective to create the illusion of a larger space. The large glass neo-rococo chandelier dates from the mid-19th century is a representation of a Morning Glory climbing plant with bunches of grapes. The Indian furniture was acquired in 1940.
Originally the Stag Room was intended to be a medieval styled Knights Room decorated with old suits of armour, weapons on the wall and heraldic stain glass windows. The antlers were supposed to have been placed around a central pillar shaped like a tree. The only item which survived these original plans is the large round table. The stags heads adorn the walls instead under a domed ceiling. Another room which never achieved its initial design is the The Noble Hall, it was intended to be a hall where ambassadors were received however it was remodelled as a billiards room.
Usually the last room on a visit the The Kitchens are in fact the largest room in the whole palace. Meals prepared here would have served great banquets held in the Stag Room. Only one of the three original stoves however remain although their chimneys remain. The palace's copper pots and pans of varying sizes, each marked with King Fernando's monogram, adorn the walls.
Pena Palace is probably the most popular day trip out of Lisbon and it's advisable to visit early in the morning before the hordes of coach parties arrive. Not only will you avoid the crowds you'll also be free after the visit to enjoy the surrounding Pena Park (Parque da Pena) at your leisure.
| Skip the line – Buy Tickets NOW
King Ferdinand had built his extraordinary castle which was so exuberant and fantastical he now needed fair-tale surroundings to suit. The design of the gardens follow the same exaggerated ideals influenced by the German romanticism movement Pena Palace was built upon. In the creation of the park the landscape was totally remodelled, using Sintra's tropical micro-climate and topology of the land to full effect. The visitor is guided along winding paths which traverse over 85 hectares of exotic trees and plants gathered from all four corners of the globe. Divided into several gardens and landscaped areas passing pavilions, small decorative buildings, water features such as waterfalls, ponds, lakes and fountains along the way. Today the visitor is still filled with a sense of wonderment and touched by a little bit of magic more than a century since King Ferdinand's vision was realised. More About →
There are cafeterias at the main entrance, gatekeepers house and in the Pena Palace, which also have a restaurant offering more substantial meals.
There are toilets in the cafés and various places around the park and palace.
The are some small car parks situated close to the main entrance to Pena Park and the Chalet of the Countess d'Edla but these will get full very quickly. Unless you have mobility issues it's advised to park in the old town and take the #434 bus from there.
You can book a private tour: info@parquesdeSintra.pt | +351 219 237 300.
There's a hop-on hop-off transfer service available between with-in the Pena Park with five stops along the route including the Pena Palace and the Chalet of the Countess d'Edla. Sign language trained staff, manual wheelchairs available on reservation, traction equipment for wheelchairs, ramps are implemented difficult parts of the park and in certain rooms of the Palace and Chalet. Here too you can find adapted WCs. NOTE: The second floor of the Chalet of the Countess d'Edla is not accessible to persons with mobility restrictions.
Park, Daily: 09h30 – 20h00, (last admission 19h00)
Palace, Daily: 09h30 - 19h00, (last admission at 18h30)
Adult €7.50, Concessionary OAP, Disabled, Student & Youth card: €6.50 Family €26.00
PARK AND PALACE
Adult €14.00, Concessionary OAP, Disabled, Student & Youth card: €12.50 Family €49.00
Lisbon Card: 10% discount | Skip the line – Buy Tickets NOW
There are hiking trails signposted between the historic centre and the National Palace of Pena:
• Santa Maria Trail (Centre to Moorish Castle/Pena; 1770 metres, 1 hour)
• Lapa Trail (Centre to Pena; 1450 metres, 45 minutes)
• Seteais Trail (Centre to Seteais, Pena/Moorish Castle; 2410 metres, 1½ hours)
• Vila Sassetti Trail (Centre - Pena/Moorish Castle; 1850 metres, 45 minutes).
Take the IC19 from Lisbon, IC30 from Mafra or EN9 turning off the A5 motorway to Cascais. Once you have arrived in the town's historic centre it's best to leave the car and take the #434 bus to the Pena Park.
The Scotturb bus #434 leaves from Sintra Train station, stops in the Old Town centre next to the Tourist Office and takes you to the Pena Park.