Approximately 18 miles outside of Lisbon is a remarkable castle overlooking the town of Sintra. Originally a chapel, a monastery was built on the site in the 15th century. It was considered to be a pilgrimage site and sanctuary until it was destroyed in the devastating earthquake of 1755. The existing castle was purchased and built in approx. 1850 by King Ferdinand.
The colorful Pena Palace is the best attraction in Sintra and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Portuguese Royal Family used the castle as a summer residence until their ouster in 1910 when it was classified as a national monument and turned into a museum open to the public.
Perched high above the city, it is surrounded by 200 acres of pine forest and the gardens of Pena Park. It is a good hike from the entrance to the castle but very enjoyable as you catch glimpses of the castle and the beautiful landscaped gardens with bridges, pergolas and fountains. The palace is a mishmash of architectural styles including Gothic, Moorish, Manueline and Renaissance and each section of the palace is painted in vivid colors with towers, arches and battlements that all seem to fit together.
King Ferdinand was from the Austrian royal family and married into the Portuguese royal family and much of his design influence was derived from his homeland and the castles on the Rhine.
I hope you agree with me that the castle is spectacular and worth the visit to Sintra if you have time in Lisbon.
Thanks for visiting