One of the Seven Wonders of Portugal

This post is about one of the Seven Won­ders of Por­tu­gal: The Pena Palace.

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The Palace of Pena is the most impor­tant ele­ment in the cul­tural land­scape of Sin­tra, acknowl­edge by UNESCO as World Her­itage of uni­ver­sal value since1995. It is also inte­grated into the Net­work of Euro­pean Royal Res­i­dences since 2013.

Where is it

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At 40 min by train from Lis­bon, or 26 km by car. Also, note­wor­thy to men­tion that it is on the top of a rocky peak, in the Sin­tra hills, which is the sec­ond high­est point. More than  500 m above sea level.

Actu­ally, if you google „how to get to Pena“, every­one says „don’t walk there, take the bus, you’ll thank me later“. Well, it’s true.

What is so special about it
  • A for­mer monastery was trans­formed into a fairy tale castle;
  • The Roman­ti­cist style in which it was built, remind of the Stolzen­fels and Rhe­in­stein castles on the banks of the Rhine, as well as Babels­berg Palace in Pots­dam. Leg­ends say all  3 were  a point of inspi­ra­tion for the Pena Palace;
  • On a clear day,  it can be seen from as far as Lis­bon;
  • the Castle is listed as one of the seven won­ders of Por­tu­gal
How it came to life

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It all starts with Our Lady of Pena, a small monastery, built in 1511, on the top of a hill. It was a small, quiet place for med­i­ta­tion, hous­ing a max­i­mum of eigh­teen monks, for cen­turies.  Then, in 1834, when the reli­gious orders were sup­pressed in Por­tu­gal, it had been left unoc­cu­pied and deserted. But of course there is no tale with­out a prince, right?

In 1838, King Fer­di­nand II was enchanted by the monastery of Our Lady of Pena and acquired it. It was in a poor shape as it was left untouched for decades.  He restored it and five years later, decided to enlarge the monastery by build­ing a new wing (the New Palace). The work on the estate took 22 years.

Ochre and pink are the orig­i­nal col­ors for the monastery and the new palace wing which were last time restored in 1994.

The Park of Pena

King Fer­di­nand II ordered also the cre­ation  of Pena Park, which is a vast forested area com­pletely sur­round­ing the palace. It spreads over 200 ha of uneven ter­rain. You can see the exotic taste of Roman­ti­cism also in here. The king ordered the plan­ta­tion of a flora which cre­ated micro-forests orig­i­nat­ing from very dif­fer­ent cli­mates: North Amer­i­can Sequoia, Cypress, Mag­no­lia, West­ern Red­cedar, Chi­nese Ginkgo, Japan­ese Cryp­tome­ria are just a few of the 500 species co-exist­ing in the park.

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It is a labyrinth of paths and nar­row alleys, with ponds, bridges con­nect­ing the palace to its two exit gates and its points of inter­est.

Walk­ing trough the park was like walk­ing out of time and dimen­sion. Birds hap­pily chirp­ing every­where, some of them I have never heard before. Cypress trees next to palm trees, Ama­zo­nian jun­gle next to Alps forests. A whole ground vibrant with life and diver­sity.

Sintra

 

From Por­tu­gal with Love

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Im thank­ful for the blog post.Thanks Again. Will read on…

    1. Thank you ! Enjoy your trav­els!

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