After more than a week back in Berlin, today we have already reached the last part of my Portugal Adventures travel diary series. Our last stop was the beautiful village of Sintra. It is pretty close to Lisbon and was one of the many places we discovered in Portugal in which some of my first words were “oh, why don’t we live here?”
At this point I will also have to quote our Lonely Planet guidebook: Sintra is an Alice in Wonderland experience. Gorgeous castles and palaces from various centuries grace the view wherever you look. One of them – the whitewashed Palácio Nacional de Sintra – is placed in the middle of the dreamy town. Since we were not the only travellers that had the wonderful idea to go to Sintra that day, the palace was c r o w d e d. Instead, we stayed away from the masses in front of the castle and enjoyed some bright sunshine in the beautiful gardens around it.
Since Sintra is placed upon several hills like most of Portugal’s coastal towns, we enjoyed views to all sides of the town already, but one sight caught our eyes especially: the Castelo dos Mouros, an enourmous moorish castle throning high above the town.
Of course we could have taken on of the special Castle Shuttle Busses to cover most of the distance and steep hills, but it wouldn’t really be us if we hadn’t chosen to simply walk up the winding, uneven roads that stretch into eternity (at least that’s what it felt like – note to self: patent oxfords are not suitable ‘walking shoes’). Half the way up, we even got caught in the rain… but if the mansions along the streets and the wildly thriving flora on the castle hill with its steep, winding and romantic walkways didn’t make up for all this strain, the view from the Castelo dos Mouros itself sure did. It was breathtaking and I guess it would be even more so when the sky is clear and the sun is out.
Reaching the highest point of the Castelo dos Mouros, a third palace suddenly appeared out of the fog: the girlishly pink and yellow Palácio Nacional da Pena. Talk about the Alice in Wonderland experience! Unfortunately we couldn’t make it there that day and were only able to gasp at its beauty from afar, but the 19th century palace is definitely high priority on my to do list once we visit Portugal again. Fun fact: Among art historians, Palácio Nacional da Pena is often discredited for its blatant use of various architectural styles and wild mixing historic influences. But what did Marc Jacobs famously say once: “It’s the things that aren’t accepted as conventionally beautiful that I find more attractive.”
all pictures by Florian Topf