The Cultural Landscape of Sintra encompasses a narrow mountainous strip with an ensemble of gardens, parks, and monuments.
The Royal Court established itself here because of its cool temperatures. Villa’s and gardens were designed, reaching its height in the 19th century.
Most notable among the constructions is the Pena Palace, the prototype of European Romanticism. Others include:
• Quinta da Regaleira
• Sintra National Palace
• Monserrate Palace
• Seteais Palace
• Castle of the Moors
• Ramalhão Palace
Visit July 1991, December 2002
The first time I went there on a daytrip from Lisbon, that is about all that I can remember. Vaguely I recollect being ill that day, so nothing really stuck in my memory about Sintra. Unfortunately ...
Eleven years later I did the same trip. From Lisbon, by train. Walking up the winding road that leads to the town.
Because of the misty and rainy weather I took a bus further up, to the Palacio de Pena. This is (on the outside) really a magnificent fairytale palace.
Jay T - April 2017
I absolutely loved my visit to the town of Sintra in the mountains outside Lisbon, Portugal. Sure, the weather was grey and brisk, and my warm layers were packed away in my lost luggage, but the day I spent there in the fall of 2012 was so memorable I would gladly return even under the same circumstances. Sintra's brightly colored town center is surrounded by castles -- the Royal Palace downtown, the Castle of the Moors on a nearby mountaintop, and the magnificent Pena National Palace, on another peak. Of those castles, I only had time to visit the Arabesque-Manueline hybrid that is Pena Palace; it was an amazing tour, with incredible views of the town, gardens, and surrounding cultural landscape from atop the towers and walls. The only other site I visited, was the unforgettable estate Quinta de Regaleira, designed by Carvalho Monteiro, a 19th century Portuguese millionaire. Monteiro was very interested in Freemasonry and the Knights Templar, and he incorporated their symbology throughout the house and gardens. As fascinating as the house was, I was thrilled to explore the gardens, which were replete with secret tunnels, grottoes, fountains, and spiraling wells. Sintra was marvelous, and reason enough for me to return to Portugal some day.
Logistics: Sintra is an easy train ride from central Lisbon, and there are several buses that operate on circuits connecting the train station to the castles and the town center. Buses are also available from Sintra to Cabo de Roca, the westernmost point of continental Europe.
Klaus Freisinger - February 2017
Sintra is the classic destination for a daytrip from Lisbon, and I did spend a full day there, but it would be quite easy and tempting to take it slowly and dedicate 2 or more days to the area. There is definitely plenty to see to keep you occupied for quite some time. The site is a cultural landscape consisting of the centre of the town of Sintra plus several palaces in the surrounding mountains that were the favourite retreat for Portuguese royalty and nobility for many centuries. There are various types of buses available, and I chose a hop-on hop-off day pass for just 5 EUR that makes the rounds to all major sights (they arrive reasonably on time, but are often stuck in the massive traffic jams). The first stop after the station is the town centre where the National Palace is located. This medieval royal residence is quite an interesting building famous for its conic chimneys and wooden ceilings with beautiful decorations. After that, I took the bus up the winding mountain roads to Sintra's true highlight - the Pena Palace. Thi is really a fantastic sight, looking like a movie set or Disney attraction. As mentioned below, both Gaudi and Disney seem to have been inspired by its unique architecture and multi-coloured buildings. It is really a joy to walk around the site (still quite a long walk uphill from the bus stop) and enjoy the panoramic views over the mountains. Back in Sintra, I finished my day with a visit to the Quinta da Regaleira, a romantic palace with a large park full of features such as grottoes, lakes, and fountains that can take quite a long time to explore. Sintra is always full of tourists and, even though it is not very far from Lisbon, it is probably a better choice to stay there for a night or two to better experience a really unique site.
Clyde - August 2014
I visited this WHS in August 2014. Knowing that this WHS was actually made up of 4 palaces, a castle and an estate, I decided to dedicate 2 full days to Sintra and sleep over. It turned out to be a great decision. Sintra is choc-a-bloc with cars, coaches, vans and bus loads of tourists mainly from 11am till 4pm as most visit Sintra as a day trip from Lisbon. If it's the only way to see Sintra by all means go for it but still I'd suggest to stick to no more than 3 sites. Having more time to spare, I arrived by car from Lisbon around 9am and there were ample parking spaces to choose from. The parking meter lets you pay a maximum of 2 euros for 4 hours but by registering your number plate online (there are instructions on the parking meter) you can simply pay online or send an sms to extend your parking time. I bought the combined ticket to visit Pena Palace + Moorish Castle + Monserrate and then bought a separate ticket to visit Quinta in the evening. The Seteais Palace is a luxury hotel which I proudly called my home for a night. The Ramalhão Palace is decorated in the Louis XVI neoclassical style and I only saw it from outside. The Pena Palace is the star attraction of Sintra and hence is the palace that attracts most crowds. Visiting early in the morning meant that I managed to beat the crowds so by the time I finished viewing it's colourful exterior and visiting its interior, endless groups of people flooded the palace! Therefore I'd say that timing is of the essence here. The Castle of the Moors is close to the Pena Palace so naturally attracts a lot of people too. At least however it offers more open spaces than the Pena Palace so it doesn't feel so crowded. It's worthwhile climbing the stairs to enjoy the view over Sintra too. My favourite palace is actually situated 4km away from Sintra but I really loved its exterior and interior design with Moghul-inspired details and the lavish gardens. I was very lucky to be the very first visitor early in the morning which meant that for a while I had the palace to myself and I really enjoyed some peaceful and quiet moments. The highlight of my visit though was the mysterious and esoteric Quinta da Regaleira. The Manueline style is immediately visible once you approach the estate and also on the small but enchanting chapel. The gardens are a labyrinth of tunnels, grottoes, statues and fountains full of esoteric symbols. I've never seen anything like the Quinta and I must say it's truly unique. It opens until 8pm in the summer months and occasionally there are private night tours or theatrical events organised on the estate grounds which I wholeheartedly recommend. All in all I enjoyed my visit to Sintra but I'm sure my experience would not have been the same had I visited only as a day trip from Lisbon.
John Booth - March 2010
Reaching Sintra from Lisbon by train is easy, and reaching Penha Hill from Sintra Station by bus (#434) is just as simple. Then after paying the entrance fee, there is yet another conveyance that takes you to the palace at the very top. I think Walt Disney must have modelled his castle at Disneyland on this building, the difference being that this is made of real stone. But the pastel colours of the decorations rival those of Gaudi. Being at such an altitude the 360 degree views from the palace of the coast and surrounds are amazing.
Descending towards the town it is easy to divert to the Moorish castle and admire the views from there too.
Having visited the Penha Palace first I found the Royal Palace in the town rather bland.
David Crisóstomo - June 2008
Sintra has many descriptions. Dora Wordsworth said, "Sintra is a place more to dream than to write about". Robert Southley wrote that Sintra, "that vast temple to Nature" is like a "glorious Éden" (Lord Byron). Wiliam Becford, who had a villa in Sintra, wrote that it was "the most blessed place in the whole globe". Gil Vicente, a famous portuguese playwright, wrote that "Sintra is a piece of heaven that king Solomon sent has a gift to a king of Portugal". Ptolemy refers to Sintra has "mons lunae" (Mount of the Moon). Sintra has been home for many artist over the centuries, like Luis de Camões, Garcia Resende, Damião de Góis, Almeida Garret, Hans Christian Andersen, Alexandre Herculano, Camilo Castelo Branco, Eça de Queirós, Ernesto Biester, Jan Van Eick, Carlos I of Bragança, Fernando II of Saxe-Coburgo Gotha and Bragança, Ludwig von Eschwege, Nicolau de Chanterenne, Wenceslau Cifka, Elisa Frederica Henler (countess of Edla), Alfredo Keil, Luisa Sigêa, Franz Lizt, Richard Strauss... From the mystical Pena Palace you can observe and apreciate the beuty and charm of this place. Down in the town be fascinated by the churches, the villas, the typical streets and cafe's, the museums and gardens, and, of course, the ancient Palácio da Vila, were you can remark,by looking up, the magical Castle of the Moors. If you want two examples of marvellous villas, Regaleira and Monserrate are certainty the best examples of it.
The best time to visit Sintra is in the week and early in the morning to avoid the crowds. Take your time and walk around to admire the sights. You must visit the national Palace also known as Paço Real or Palácio da Vila. It was built on a site once occupied by the Moors. It is connected to the most significant period of Portuguese history, namely the birth and fall of the empire. Don't forget to visit the kitchens. I remember sitting on the balcony of Café de Paris at lunch time watching the tourists admiring this wonderful place.
Sintra,village where I inhabit , is doubtlessly one of the most beautiful places in the world.I born and i grew up in this village that as much teaches, not only to its inhabitants as well to the visitors.it's the most occidental village in Europe, and has gorgeous beaches, that they are considered one of most beautiful of the world.Sintra offers almost everything: from palaces and mansions to densely wooded slopes and romantic or exotic parks and gardens; from churches and monuments to excellent restaurants.sintra possesss a very proper environment and spirit , attracts visitors of all species, inclusively has the myth of the accomplishment of satanic rituals.sintra has everything, with such can be made everything,and who lives here never will leave.
David J. Jordan Jr. - February 2006
As a American of Portuguese and French descent, my mother came here from the Azores islands in 1964, at the age of 23, and dad is from French Canada, and has been in the U.S. for 75 years! My heart belongs to Portugal, a amazing country, with a long and beautiful history. It makes me so happy to read the reviews. I have visited many countries in Europe, all were beautiful, yet Portugal remains unique. I long to see Lisbon from the castelo de sao Jorge at sunset. Or the spectacular view of Sintra from the palacio de Pena. Mafra and it's incredible convent/palace, that dome! You can see it for miles, I can go on and on, trust me, you'll love it.
Anibal Schulz Henriques - November 2005
Sintra is one of the most interesting places in the world, for it history, and archeologie.
It all begins same thousand years ago. You can have references about it, since the "Itenerários" from Plínio , Strabos, Pompónio Mela or iven from Strabão.
But in my opinion the best historical references about Sintra you can read them in the "Monarchia Lusitana" from Frei Bernardo de Brito. There is also a very interesting book from João de Barros called the "Crónica do Imperador Clarimundo" the subject is Sintra but told in a very different kind of literature,(a midle - age way).
Sintra during many centuries was known as "Monte da Lua", Moon Mount, where the most ancient culture manifestation take place.
A heritage imortalized by Knight´s and Poets, it is a wonder that everyone should at least ones in life came and visit it.
I just hope that in the future organizations as UNESCO can help to preserve this unique place in the world.
Sintra was perhaps the highlight of my time in Portugal and that is saying a lot as I loved it there, and I didn't even get to see the highlight of the Pena Palace as it was closed. Sintra is very easy to get to from the centre of Lisbon there is a direct train from Rossio station and it takes about 35 minutes on a brand spanking new train! The centre of the town is next to the station and is reasonably nice but most of the sights are up on the surrounding hills. The Pena Palace is a ridiculously over the top royal palace and I was sad I did not get the chance to see it. Instead I spent a lot o time just climbing the hills and running around the Castelo dos Mouros. The castle is in ruins but still the walls seem to just merge with the rocky hill. And once in one of the bastions you are afforded a magnificent view over the surrounding Sintra National Park all the way to the Atlantic or back into Lisbon in the other direction. Truly a magnificent place and I am hoping to go back just to see the Palace.
Ahhhh, Sintra! I've just returned from a 3 week self-guided tour of Portugal. We were able to visit alot of the places I missed on my first trip, including Evora, Coimbra, Obidos Conimbriga, Estremoz, Tomar and the Algarve. Sintra is still my favorite place. I revisited the Pena Palace and walked up from the ticket booth exploring the surrounding park a bit. Magical, green, lovely. It was a really windy day and we were almost blown off the ramparts, but still had a clear view of the Castle of the Moors. Back down in the town, after shopping in the local gift shops, and having a great lunch at a restaurant called Xentra, we visited the Sintra Palace, with the two large cone chimneys visible
from quite a distance. The base of these chimneys turn out to be the kitchens. It's so cool to be inside them and look up to see the holes to the sky. We left Sintra and toured the circular tour stopping at the Monserrat Palace I believe it was, which was closed for repairs. We followed stone walls, saw old villas, in a romantic green forest. We wouldn't have been surprised to see a Knight Templar step out of the trees.
Another town, not far away, is the ancient walled city of Obidos. We had lunch at the Pousada, the converted castle there. The city is a wonderful maze of streets, and while many of the homes are now shops, you can still get a sense of Portugal in years past here. What I liked best was how
the folks have trained vines to grow up around their homes. Lovely.
Food was wonderful wherever we traveled and I developed a taste for bacalhau, the famed salted cod fixed a zillion different ways. All in all, a fabulous trip to a wonderful country.
I visited Sintra 2 years ago on a trip to Portugal. It was one of the highlights of my trip and that is saying something. Portugal has so many fascinating and wonderful
places to see. The Pena Palace was fabulous! Many people
describe the outside as being the best part, and indeed it
is quite unique. However, it was the interior that really
impressed me. It not only is like stepping back in time, the
brilliance of decoration is something to behold. I am planning a trip back to Portugal in May, 2004 and
to again visit Sintra and this time also see the Sintra
National Palace which was closed on my last trip. I've been to Italy, Britain, and Spain, yet Portugal is my favorite
country. The history, beauty and people, make it a memorable
country to visit.
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Full name: Cultural Landscape of Sintra
1995 - InscribedReasons for inscription
The site has 17 connections. Show all
- Destroyed or damaged by Earthquake Sintra National Palace: The ensemble suffered damage after the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake but was restored in the "old fashion", according to contemporary accounts. The biggest loss to the great earthquake was the tower over the Arab Room, which collapsed (wiki)
- Eucalypts The northern slopes of the Serra with their extensive forests of ... eucalyptus (AB ev)
Religion and Belief
- Sacred Mountains The sacred Mountains of Varro and Columela (AB ev)
- Built in the 19th Century Pena National Palace (1842-1854), Castelo dos Mouros reconstructed in the 19th century
WHS on Other Lists
- Europa Nostra Award Chalet of the Countess of Edla (2013 Prize for Conservation)
World Heritage Process
- Clearly defined landscapes As a landscape designed and created intention ally by man for cultural and aesthetic reasons, the whole ensemble fits into the first category of cultural landscapes (AB ev)