Pena palace in Sintra

Pena palace in Sintra (a guide to the Romantic Sintra palace)

 

Sitting up on top of one of the majestic Sintra Mountains, the Pena Palace is one of the most historic attractions that is well recognized throughout Portugal and an iconic palace worth visiting. The palace is also a Unesco World Heritage Sites and one of Portugal’s Seven Wonders.

Pena Palace or Palacio Nacional de Pena looks like a fantastical mixture of different design and cultural influences. Considered a national monument, the palace represents the best of 19th century Romanticism in the entire world. The Romantic architecture and style utilized a variety of techniques, imagination, whimsy and the imagination to create this eclectic look and feel.

If you want to visit Sintra and the Pena Palace, it is an easy day trip from Lisbon or done with a group tour so you can avoid the hassles and efforts to visiting this site and the many other palaces around the Sintra area.

 

 

Pena palace in Sintra (a guide to the Romantic Sintra palace)

 

A brief history of the Pena Palace

The castle actually dates to the Middle Ages with a chapel that was built on the hill and became a pilgrimage site to the apparition of the Virgin Mary with the dedication of Our Lady of Pena. The sanctuary was a favorite of Portuguese royalty who created a monastery on the site which suffered major damage in the great 1755 earthquake that destroyed the monastery, but the chapel survived. King Ferdinand purchased the chapel, the Palace of the Moors and surrounding lands and eventually created a massive palace as a summer palace for the royal families.

Created in the Romantic style with influences of several castles of the Rhine River, the castle was started in 1842 and completed in 1847. With Islamic and medieval influences, the castle passed through different royal hands and was eventually purchased by the state and in 1910 declared a national monument.

In 1995, the palace and grounds were inscribed into the Unesco World Heritage site and has ever since been a popular tourist destination.

 

 

A brief history of the Pena Palace

 

 

Pena Palace FAQ

Why is the Pena Palace famous?

Incorporating the medieval convent, monastery and chapel and creating a large summer palace for the Royal Portuguese families and converting it later to a national monument and museum and created a national treasure and World Heritage site.

 

How much time do you need to visit the Palace

Give yourself a few hours at least to visit the insides of the palace, enjoy the views and courtyards and the remains of the convent and chapel. There is a walk all the way from the ticket office to the palace entrance which you can also catch a shuttle to get you to the top.

 

Why are there so many palaces In Sintra

Due to the short distance from Lisbon and cooler climate, the area around Sintra was an easy summer palace and getaway destination for the Portuguese royal family and other nobility. Even the Moors created a large fortressed area above with fortifications that protected the city during the medieval ages.

 

What is the best palace to visit in Sintra?

Every palace is very different from each other with unique features and design to each. Pena Palace is the most popular and draws in the majority of visitors to see this unusual and colorful palace and gardens.

 

Which is the best preserved palace to visit in Sintra?

The National Palace of Sintra is the best-preserved palace built since the Middle Ages from the 15th to 19th centuries with elaborate and grand rooms to host the royal families of Portugal.

 

Pena Palace FAQ

 

 

Initial rulers of Pena Palace

King Ferdinand ll commissioned the build of this castle with influences from all over Europe and probably Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. King Ferdinand was born as a German prince and was known in Portugal as Dom Fernando II or more well known as the “artist king.”

In 1836, Ferdinand married Maria II, the Queen of Portugal and together they raised 11 children before his wife died of childbirth. After Ferdinand married an opera singer named Elise Hensler and gave her the title of Countess of Edla in 1869.

Both loved nature and organic forms and collected unusual and exotic plant specimens from their travels to be planted into the botanical gardens around the palace. The palace itself had many organic and botanical forms incorporated into the design which they both wanted incorporated into the interiors and facade of the palace.

 

Style of Architecture at Pena Palace

Style of Architecture at Pena Palace

Bold colors and a Disneyesque façade, the Pena Palace is a real hodge podge of styles and titled as Romantic Architecture overall. The eclectic mixture of styles covers Neo Manueline, Gothic, Neo Islamic and also Neo Renaissance design utilizing design influences of mostly Germanic Romantic Influences. King Ferdinand wanted to incorporate many design elements from his many European visits along with his architect’s vision and research of various Palaces.  Eccentric and whimsical the bold colors, flourishes and details make this a well-loved castle that every visitor loves to explore.

Standing solidly atop the Sintra Mountain, the palace is broken down into four sections with the outer walls and gates, inner courtyards and convent and towers, Moorish arches fronting the chapel and the massive palace building and cylindrical bastion.

The remains of the convent, chapel, cloister and sacristy were incorporated into the section around the large terrace and main clock tower. You can access these areas separately from the actual palace rooms.

The couple also had a love nest built in Pena Park called the Chalet da Condessa D’Edla. Built in the style to resemble an alpine chalet which sits perfectly in the forested gardens and was their intimate getaway from the public.

 

Touring the exterior and interior of the castle

 

 

Touring the exterior and interior of the castle

The king requested a variety of palace features to include a drawbridge, turrets and towers, elaborate gate entrances and crenellated ramparts with elaborate flourishes. Painted in vivid colors that really draws in the imagination included the striking red of the main tower and chapel area, ochres of the Moorish arches and geometric designs and then blue azulejos of the Portuguese influence.

 

 

Fantastical entry doorway

 

Fantastical entry doorway

The fabulous entry doorway really draws you into this stunning palace entrance. The stone portal has an undersea theme with a mythical gargoyle that transitions into vines, trees and grape vines that drape around the bay windows in organic and wild abandon.

 

The staterooms of the Pena Palace

The staterooms of the Pena Palace

Considering that most of the large gathering rooms were more intimate, there are some large assembly rooms inside. This includes the Sala de Visitas, Salao Nobre and the Kings Chambers.

You can just visit the exterior of the palace and the park for only € 7 euro. To visit the interiors of the palace, it’s an extra € 8, make sure you do get into the line as quickly as possible.

A separate and very long line snacks around the entrance courtyard and cloister and slowly snakes into the many halls and private chambers. The beautiful cloister area has walls that are decorated with 16th century Hispano-Arabic tiles similar to the azulejo tiles utilized in many other palaces of Sintra.

 

The staterooms of the Pena Palace

 

The grand ball room area of Pena Palace

 

The grand ball room area of Pena Palace

 

King Ferdinand’s royal chambers and royal office

 

 

King Ferdinand's royal chambers and royal office

 

 

 

 

King Ferdinand's royal chambers and royal office

 

King Ferdinand’s royal chambers and royal office and normally reflect a summer style palace that is lived in and not grand compared to some of the other larger palaces including the National Palace of Sintra. These really show the lived in nature and casual lifestyle of the royals for their summer retreat.

 

 

 

King Ferdinand's royal chambers and royal office

 

 

 

 

 

Visit to Pena Palace Park

Visit to Pena Palace Park

The palace grounds have a lush botanical garden that consists of over 200 hectares of lush gardens and forested paths and plant collections. The King and Counted collected botanical species that are now mature, wild and romantic at the same time to explore.

Highlights to see at the Pena Palace includes the Chalet, the Fountain of Small Birds, the statue of Ferdinand, the lush fern gardens, the grottos and the formal terraces at the entry gate areas.

 

 

 Essential information to visiting the Pena Palace

 

Essential information to visiting the Pena Palace

If you want to visit the interiors, make sure you make this your first stop that matches the timeframe of your visit on the ticket.

Over time, the bright exterior colors faded and the palace was almost entirely gray until the state painted the exteriors the original colors at the end of the 20th century.

In 1995, it was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

During the peak season from Easter to September, the palace is extremely busy so the earlier you visit the less waiting time. Entrance opening is at 9:30 am so getting here to the entrance is ideal so that your waiting times are not so long.

 

How to get to the Pena Palace from Sintra train station

From the train station you can catch the 434 buses to the entrance at the ticket office and the buses arrive every 15 minutes at the station.

You can catch the bus and pay a hop on hop off fee to visit the palace, Castle of the Moors and Central Sintra fronting the National Palace.

 

Hours – 0900 – 1900 daily

Open to visit the interiors 09:30 – 18:30

 

 Entrance fees

Palace and park entrance fee $14 Euro

Park and exterior areas 7.50 Euro

If you do not to walk up the hill to the top, you can do a roundtrip shuttle to take you to the top and back. There is a nominal roundtrip fee to get to the top and back and worth the ride to avoid climbing to the castle.

Skip the line experience

There are skip the line tickets also available to purchase here so you avoid long wait times to enter the palace grounds.

For private tours of Sintra and Pena Palace, check out this tour experience from Lisbon here for details and booking.

 

 

 

 Entrance fees

 

 

 

Conclusion on Pena palace in Sintra

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