Our Place in Sintra
Torin found us a great spot in Sintra through AirBnB (Casa da Fonte 3) with beautiful views across the valley and up to the castles. It was a self catering apartment that came with a full kitchen and washer/dryer so we could make our own food and do laundry. The windows in the dining room were amazing and they provided a mesmerizing view both by day and night.
Castles and Mountains – Exploring Sintra
Although sight-seeing and tourist attractions are not high on the priority list for our family, we had been told that you must go see the Moorish Castle when you go to Sintra, so a CASTLE DAY we had.
There is a castle and a palace that are a MUST SEE if you ever happen to be in Sintra
Castelo dos Mouros & Palacio da Pena
The bonus about going to these tourist attractions was that we could hike up to them as they are situated approximately 500 metres above sea level. This definitely had an added appeal to the three of us.
I won’t go into details about the history of these places but will suffice it to say that…
- The Castelo dos Mouros was established during the 9th century by the North African Moors to guard the town of Sintra but it fell into disrepair after the Christian conquest of Portugal.
- The castle was destined to be forgotten and permanently ruined until King Ferdinand II transformed the entire Sintra region. Ferdinand II was a king obsessed by art, drama and the good life – he romanticized the middle ages and ordered the reconstruction of the castle. The castle was reconstructed so as to be viewed from his beloved Pena Palace, while the grounds were designed for areas for contemplation and relaxation.
- We each did our absolute best to fulfill his vision on all the concrete benches in and amongst the castle. Check out the pic’s in this regard.
It was a great explore and was a highlight for all three of us as it involved climbing steep stairs to high places and exploring all the various nooks and crannies in the remains of the castle.
By the time we got to Palacio da Pena our energy was waning but as we wandered through the interior of the palace of King Ferdinand the II, we were mesmerized by the variety of rooms, the extravagance of the furnishings, and the art work. The chapel, kitchen, bedrooms and bathroom, the stag room and the royal dining room were a special highlight as we imagined the royal family living and being in these spaces.
A couple notable points about the history:
- The castle originally started out as a chapel and was built as dedication to Our Lady of Pena.
- For many centuries it was a quiet place of meditation and the home to 18 monks.
- In the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755 most of the castle was destroyed, except for the chapel, which survived.
- For many years the castle lay in ruins until the 1800’s when King Ferdinand the II set out to transform the monastery into a castle to serve ( get this) as a summer residence for the royal Portuguese family.
- In 1910 the castle was declared a national monument and has been a museum since then
Despite all these interesting historical information, the highlight for Torin, however, was the afternoon snack we had on the terrace after our touring, where we drank espresso and ate local cinnamon honey cookies, called Broas de Mel, that he drooled over and figured they were one of the best things he had ever tasted. He made it his mission the next day to find more of them.
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