10 Best Attractions of Sintra | Mad About SIntra

Portugal's ancient mystical home of Romanticism, Moon Temples, Enchanted Forests and Opulent Palaces.

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| 01

MONSERRATE PALACE
(Palácio de Monserrate)

A couple of miles out from the old town of Sintra along the forested road of Rua Barbosa do Bocage, past the Quinta Regaleira and the Palácio de Seteais hotel you'll encounter one of the most beautiful eclectic architecture and landscaped gardens in Portugal. The house is set among a vast botanical park of exotic trees, subtropical shrubs and plants.
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MONSERRATE PALACE

| 02

Moorish Castle
(Castelo dos Mouros)

Sat upon a peak of the Serra De Sintra half buried under forest and looking like a crown is the Moorish Castle (Castelo dos Mouros) which is so named after the Moors who built a mighty fortification on this spot back in the 10th Century. The walls which one sees now are however are much more recent. During the 19th Century when Sintra was engulfed in Romanticism the walls were restored which had previously been badly damaged by the devastating earthquake which struck the region in 1755. Ferdinand II, the German prince of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha-Koháry and who married Queen Maria II, built the Pena Palace and incorporated the Castle in his plans for the surrounding park. Later during the Salazer regime further restorations were carried out in accordance with facist ideals of glorifying past Portuguese achievements. Today the Castle makes for a great excursion, exploring the ruins, taking in the views and exploring the surrounding forest.
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Moorish Castle

| 03

Pena Palace
(Palácio da Pena)

Pena Palace, one of the most iconic buildings in Portugal as seen on countless postcards and travel brochures, is truly a sight to behold up close. Everything about the palace has been designed to impress, it's location just below the summit of the Sintra mountain overlooks the landscape below for tens of miles. It's exaggerated architecture which influences come from medieval and moorish styles reflect the obsession of the Romanticism movement of the late 19th century had with pre-classicism and mysticism. Pena Palace is the brain child of Ferdinand II of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, King consort and husband of Queen Maria II. The palace is a self-indulgent muddle of vividly painted terraces, domes, towers, decorative battlements, a drawbridge which doesn't draw and mythological statues. The palace is designed to be visible from any point within the park which surrounds it. The extensive palace grounds have been landscaped to include exotic trees and plants, mysterious follies and lakes, and mythological statues. On the 7th July 2007 Pena Palce was selected as one of the seven wonders of Portugal. See More →

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Sintra Old Town

HISTORIC CENTRE (VILA VELHA)

Sintra can easily be divided into the new part and the old, the new is centred around the train station Portela de Sintra and the old village located in the São Martinho district up the hill and west of the Sintra train station. The Largo Rainha Dona Amélia in the centre of the old town would be the first place you'll encounter if you've arrived by coach from Lisbon or taken the bus from the train station. Flanked on three sides by restaurants, gift shops and over priced wine shops, whilst dominating the other side stands the imposing Palácio Nacional de Sintra with it's distinctive champagne bottled shaped chimneys. The pillory or pelourinho standing on it's three steps next to the Largo Rainha Dona Amélia is an 20th century copy made in 1940 by José da Fonseca. The original was destroyed in 1854. More About →

What to see…

Fountains Sintra Myths & Legends Interactive Centre

| 04

NATIONAL PALACE OF Sintra
(Palácio Nacional de Sintra)

Located within the historical centre of Sintra (also known as São Martinho) the palace is the town's centre of activity and stands out from miles arounds by it's distinctive chimneys. The National Place of Sintra's origins predates Portugal itself and dates back to the Moorish occupation of the Iberian Peninsula and is mentioned in texts from a thousand years ago in the 11th Century. After the conquest of the area by Portugal's first King, Dom Afonso Henriques, in 1147 it became property of the Portuguese Crown. The first alterations to the palace began in 1281 during the reign of King Dinis, during which time the first extensions we added. Subsequent additions took place during the reigns of the kings João I and Manuel I who left their own stamp of this incredible structure. Yet since the 16th century the palace has seen very little change. The whole structure maintains an arabesque demeanour found within it's decretive wall tiles, interior courtyards, the use of fountains and use of light through the many ornate windows. The National Palace of Sintra is the benchmark of subsequent Portuguese architectural styles and epitomises the cultural influences which have shaped Portugal itself.
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National Palace of Sintra

| 05

QUINTA DA REGALEIRA

Sometimes referred to as the Paláçio da Regaleira, or even Paláçio Monteiro dos Milhões after it's former owner the millionaire and visionary António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro. The palatial villa was built between 1904 and 1910, during the final days of Portugal's monarchy, on the site of the property formerly belonging to the Barons of Regaleira, a family of wealthy merchants from Porto. António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro commissioned the Italian theatrical designer and architect Luigi Manini (1848-1936) to design the house. Manini had already proved his mastery of design and his adeptness of the Neo-Manueline style with his design of the Palace Hotel do Buçaco.

The four hectare estate, the palace and surrounding lush gardens, were totally transformed into a place full of mysticism, romance, wonder and magic. Found amongst the lakes, statues, grottoes and enigmatic constructions are hidden alchemical symbology, such as those evoked by the Freemasons, Templars and an esoteric medieval German ideology called Rosicrucianism. Since 2002 the house and estate have been classified as a National Monument and is being preserved by the CulturSintra foundation.
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Quinta da Regaleira

| 06

NATIONAL PALACE OF QUELUZ
(Palácio Nacional de Queluz)

In-between Sintra and Lisbon lies the impressive 18th century palace of Queluz. The complex is a masterpiece of baroque, rococo and neoclassicism architectural styles which evolved with the social changes that occurred during the time of construction. The palace was first conceived as a summer residence for the Braganza dynasty's lesser princes but it was Dom Pedro III (prince regent), husband of the ill fated Queen D. Maria I, who developed the site and ordered the development of this luxurious estate. Inside opulence reigns supreme where rooms are richly decorated and gold guilted, with richly painted ceilings and adorned with fine art. It's gardens are equally impressive, comparable to those found at Versailles and include lakes, fountains and mythological statues.
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National Palace of Sintra
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Museu Arqueolgico de São Odrinhas

MUSEUMS OF SINTRA

During the millennia of Sintra's rich and diverse history a great number of artefacts, curiosities and a broad cultural heritage has built up. Treasures from various epochs can be found within the towns museums and art galleries. Sintra boasts unique collections of fossils, art pieces and toys.

The cultural legacy left by the poets, artists, royals and enigmatic characters who once dwelt here can be found within the homes they bequeathed to history.

What to see…

Air Museum Archeology Museum Natural History Museum

| 07

CAPUCHOS CONVENT
(Convento dos Capuchos)

A visit to the Capuchos Convent, often referred to as the Cork Convent, is a true step back in time and an experience of an impoverished lifestyle at one with nature. Once occupied by Fransiscan monks it was founded in 1560 by Dom Álvaro, a State Councillor to King Sebastião, and was original called the Convento de Santa Cruz da Serra de Sintra. The site embodies the ideals of the Order of St. Francis of Assisi, the search for spiritual harmony by detaching oneself from the world and renouncing the pleasures associated with everyday life. It's austere construction was deliberately made as simple as possible, utilising the lay of the land and natural objects with extensive use of cork as protection and decoration. The landscape surrounding the building was meticulously maintained by the resident monks resulting in the preservation of Sintra's original flora whereas else where in the forest foreign exotic plants were introduced to adorn gardens.
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Capuchos Convent

| 08

CABO DA ROCHA

Officially Cabo da Roca is the most westerly point in mainland Europe and easily reached by the #403 bus from either Sintra or Cascais. The cliffs here rise a staggering 140m (460ft) above the crashing waves below and offering those walking along the cliff top path spectacular views out to sea, the sunsets here are amazing. Standing on the foundations of a 16th century fort is the Cabo da Roca lighthouse and an elevated cross bearing the inscription "land ends and the sea begins" written by Luís de Camões. The tourism office here provides visitors with a certificate stating that they have visited the most westerly point of mainland Europe.
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Cabo da Rocha

| 09

SETEAIS PALACE
(Palácio de Seteais)

Even though Seteais Palace today is a luxury hotel visitors have free access to its wonderful grounds where also cultural events are often held. This neo-classical Palace was built in 1787 for the Dutch Consul on land which occupies a prime position on the edge of the Serra de Sintra overlooking the countryside and town. It's current form dates back to a period of enlargement work carried out in first years of the 19th Century, when it acquired by Dom Diogo José Vito de Meneses Noronha Coutinho, the illustrious fifth Marquis of Marialva and Royal Chamberlain. The Marquis had the east wing constructed and in-between the two buildings he commissioned a large triumphal arch to commemorate the visit of Prince Regent João VI and Princess Carlota Joaquina in 1802.
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Setais Palace

| 10

VILLA SASSETTI

The first proprietor of the estate was the successful hotelier Victor Carlos Sassetti (1851-1915) who commissioned his friend and great architect Luigi Manini, the designer of Quinta da Regaleira, to build here his summer residence. Construction lasted between 1890 and 1894. Over the decades following Sassetti's death the house and estate has undergone various stages of alterations and restorations and now has UNESCO heritage status. Recent enhancements have opened up the estate as part of the walking route between Sintra old town, the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace. As part of opening the grounds to the public there was an addition of a cafeteria and toilets as well as reviving the house exterior and resuscitate the gardens.
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Villa Sassetti