Palacio da Pena
Sintra – Portugal
Visiting the Palace of Pena is a nice option for a sunny day as they are in Portugal. Alone, with family or friends, you’ll be amazed by the beauty of this particular place.
It is one of the seven wonders of Portugal since July 2007. It is actually open for touristic visits all year long. It is also the monument with the most visits. Visit it is a little bit expensive (14 euros for visiting the all domain+palace) but here’s a little trick for you: it’s free the morning of the first Sunday of each month!
Sintra is a city in the center of Portugal, about 25 km on the north-west of the capitale, Lisbonne. It is protect by Unesco since 1995 and it’s classify Cultural Heritage of Humanity as a lot of spots in this country.
The Serra of Sintra is between Lisbon and the Atlantic. It’s a mountain range and it has a really rich and varied vegetation which makes it this place unique. It is so significatif that Lord Byron, a British poet of the XIII-XIX century, called it the Glorious Eden.
The palace I’m here to talk about, is from the XIX century and was built in the Romanticism period. We can clearly see the influences of the Moorish, the Manuelino, Gothic, Baroque and of the Renaissance’s style in it. It is one of the best exemples of Architectural Romanticism in the world!
We can thank the architect Wilhelm Ludwig von Eshwege, more known as Baron Eschwege, which was a german who worked for the Portuguese crown, for this palace. He traveled to Brazil and after that he collaborated with D. Fernando de Saxe-Coburgo-Gota, King consort of Portugal and husband of Queen Maria II, to the drawing of the plans for this castle, around 1836 and 1840.
A little bit of History…
The actual Palace was built on the ruins of an old covent. This one was destroyed during the great earthquake of 1755 which devastated Lisbon.
The King Fernando II of Portugal bought the ruins and all the areas around it, including the Castle of Mouros. He started a lot of restoring works to transform it to be his summerhouse.
As I said above, he commissioned the project to the amateur architect Eschwege which was a well-traveled man. The work was completed quickly and the King made some important decisions about the details and the symbolic decoration. We can see the Romanticism of the monarch in it.
There is an imitation of the Capitulo, the mythic window of the Covent of Christ in Tomar. Stay tuned for a next article about this legendary place of the time of the Templars!
When the King Fernando II died, the palace became Portuguese national heritage, with the Crown heritage. After that the King Carlos I of Portugal and all the Royal family went to Palace very often. This was the favorite house of the Queen Amélia.During the regicide, Queen Amélia waited the evolution of the situation inside the Palace of Pena. She spent here her last night before the fall of the monarchy. With the establishment of the republic the Palace became a museum.
A little bit of architecture…
The colors of the Palace are old-pink for the ancient Monastery and ocher for the new palace. The blue we can see are the typical tiles of Portugal.
The Palace of Pena is divided in four principal areas: the murals, the body, the Patio of arches and the palatial zone.
The body is the restoration of the old covent on the top of the hill with a Clock Tower. In the Patio we can see the Moorish style arches. The Palatial zone is in a cathedral style.
There is a chapel in the Palace all in tiles. The configuration has not changed since the XVI century. The little dimensions and the dome in warhead and tiles are characteristic and also from the XVI century.
< This is the high altar reredos which is in black marble and alabaster. This was sculpted by the french artist Nicolas de Chanterene.
There is a detail of the neogothic stained glass window. This represents Vasco da Gama and the Belem Tower on the background.>
The literal translation of the name « Palacio da Pena » has two significations: Palace of the feather or Palace of Pain. Which are two really poetic and romantic ways to see this place.
As you walk throw that hallways filled with history you feel like a real princess or a brave knight. You try to imagine all that happened inside this walls and conceived what they might have seen.
If you choose the first option, Palace of the feather, you’ll see the tiny details of each corner; each sculpture; each furniture. The frivolous atmosphere of colors around you. You’ll let your hair fly and picture the breeze as feathers caressing your face. You’ll close your eyes and understand why Queen Amélia loved this place so much.
If you choose the second option, Palace of Pain, you’ll also see beauty and a little bit of melancholy. This palace was built on the ruins of another. You can just see the death but I see more than that. That place means that anything can rise again, as glorious as it was in past even better. So I take the pain as a guide not as misfortune. I see the hours of effort to make this palace unique and the hard work of craftsmen.
No matter if you are young or old, I can promise that you’ll love that place. The view is amazing! On one side you can see the ocean and on the other you have a view over all the city of Sintra.
I went there during the morning, it was enough for visit the Palace but not really to visit all the domain. This one is field with long pedestrian paths designed for relaxing walks.
If you go there, please tell me! And I would love to know if you enjoyed this article. I hope it brought a little knowledge about this wonderful place.
I’ll see you soon, in our next adventure. Until then don’t forget to open your eyes and see the beauty the world around you has to offer.