Sintra, Portugal

Well I have never seen something quite like this before. A hilltop palace like no other, Sintra’s Palacio da Pena is a collage of different tastes and architectural styles, something here for all. Think back to your childhood when you were reading fairy tales with glorious illustrations. Here it has all come to life; many different cultures and eras, all juggled into one grand palace built in the 19th century by Ferdinand Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. He was the consort for Queen Maria II, and he was the cousin of Prince Albert who was the consort to the Queen of England, Queen Victoria. I recall Prince Albert built something fantastic for his Queen also. Ferdinand fancied himself an artist and he was able to indulge his creative bent here to the max.

Ellie, one of the guests on my tour

I found the interior to be a surprise, most of the rooms are on a small domestic house scale but there was no expense spared in commissioning artisans to decorate and design different floor and wall treatments and furnishings. One minute you are in a celadon green silk lined room, complete with padded silk fabric ceilings and next you are in an Islamic wall tiled salon. Each room that you entered was an entirely different theme!

Photos inside were forbidden so I had to settle for a DVD (slideshow) of still photos that a professional photographer was selling in the gift shop.

Sintra is easy to visit from Lisbon as a day trip and there is also another royal palace to visit in the town itself, the Pena Palace is a couple of kilometres from the town, high in the clouds where the eagles make their nests.

Roz MacAllan

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