Amateur of romanticism, here is a destination not to be missed straight out of a fairy tale ! 30 kilometers from Lisbon is hiding a small gem called Sintra, which unfolds amidst lush vegetation, exotic gardens and palaces of extravagant architecture. Enchanting, magical, idyllic, the qualifiers are not lacking to define this portuguese city classified as a World Heritage Site. A dream place for all lovers looking for an exceptional place to enjoy a romantic weekend.
The court’s favourite holiday destination
A territory conquered by the Moors in the Middle Ages and then reconquered by the Catholics, Sintra is a compilation of Portuguese and European history. Since the 16th century, the city has been a holiday destination for the court and the Lisbon aristocracy, attracted by the freshness of his climate. Then in the 19th century Sintra became a Mecca of European Romanticism with the installation of nobles and bourgeois who built villas in the romantic style surrounded by lush gardens. Artists and poets, including Lord Byron, also come to discover these splendours and seek inspiration. Even today, the visitor is captivated by the charm of the place and impressed by its buildings, its atmosphere and its omnipresent vegetation. Over the centuries, Sintra has become a true cultural landscape.
The plenitude of romanticism
Located at the foot of a small mountain, the old town of Sintra is immersed in the middle of a magnificent natural park full of magic, mystery and exuberant architecture. Its national palace, proudly enthroned in the central square, with its famous cone-shaped chimneys, imposes its silhouette in front of the beautiful coloured or azulejos decorated facades of the buildings of the old town. Its small cobbled streets extend this enchanting setting and invite you to a romantic stroll. And what about the jewellery scattered around the historic centre : the remains of a Moorish castle, a multicoloured castle with multiple architectural inspirations, a mysterious Franciscan convent, a superb palace mixed with Indian and Moorish inspiration and a neo-Gothic villa in an extravagant park. Sintra has the particularity of offering visitors a unique experience by visiting these historic sites scattered throughout the natural park. A combined experience of nature and culture that gives the impression of visiting a kind of amusement park of the romantic century. So vast and scattered that one risks getting lost in it and that is the charm of the place. Sintra is an exceptional ensemble of parks, gardens and villas that embody the fullness of romanticism. Undoubtedly the place symbol of the romantic current of the 19th century.
The magic of childhood
Sintra seems to have been built for adults with a child’s soul. To marvel at incredible buildings, to play hiding in a misty forest or to be afraid in the underground of Quinta da Regailera. Finally Sintra is the experience of childhood. All the aristocrats and bourgeois, who made Sintra, perhaps had only one desire left, to build a playground to relive their lost childhood for a moment. Sintra is the opposite of classicism and norm, this place is an escape from reason and rationalism at work in Europe in the 19th century. Walking around in this incredible setting, you can see how lucky it is to be able to follow in the footsteps of these rich eccentrics and admire the beauty they have left us.
Despite the strong tourist presence, Sintra is still relatively unknown to Europeans. And yet few places in Europe offer such wonders, except perhaps Bavaria and the castles of Ludwig II. Sintra is an ode to madness and childhood, allowing one to indulge in wonder, enchantment and contemplation. A place full of poetry that will inspire the poets of yesteryear and delight the lovers of today. If there is only one romantic place to see in Europe, it would be Sintra without any hesitation.
Lovers, to your luggage !
Quinta da Regaleira
Watch out, exceptional place ! Born of the imagination of an Italian opera set designer and a wealthy Brazilian owner, Quinta Da Regaleira Palace and its gardens are an incredible collection of neo-Gothic buildings that descend a 4 hectare slope of park. Within the abundant vegetation are hidden towers, pavilions, fountains, statues, terraces, ponds and underground caves, offering visitors a giant treasure hunt and a magical and mysterious experience. Not to be missed is its famous 30-meters deep initiatory well for a mystical experience. A true journey into a universe full of esoteric, masonic and templar symbols. An exceptional place that alone is worth a visit to Sintra.
Palacio da Pena
Sintra icon and probably one of the most extravagant castles in the world. Nestled 500 meters above a summit overlooking Sintra, Palacio Da Pena is an explosion of colour and style, an architectural exuberance combining Gothic, Manueline, Moorish and Renaissance styles. Built on the ruins of an old monastery, the castle was the result of King Ferdinand 2’s whimsical imagination, who wanted to make a summer residence built as a symbol of the romantic era. Bright colours, red, yellow, orange, azulejos, arches, towers and other domes offer the visitor a scenography worthy of a movie set. Several terraces offer magnificent views of the surrounding countryside and the sea in the distance. The interior is also worth a visit with its richly decorated rooms. The price of success obliges the visitor to be patient when visiting the Palacio Da Pena because it is the site to see absolutely in Sintra. After visiting this incredible castle, the visitor can continue the visit by strolling through the 220 hectares of Da Pena Park surrounding the Palacio to admire the abundant vegetation here and there temple, chapel, fountain, pavilion, belvedere or charming little pond. The bravest can walk to Countess Elda’s charming chalet with its romantic gardens. And if it rains, then you will have the chance to discover an almost mystical atmosphere in the forests of Sintra.
Palacio de monserrate
Less known than its neighbours and yet not to be missed, the Palacio de Monserrate is a superb mixed palace of Moorish, Gothic and Indian inspiration, with magnificent gardens. Waterfalls, ponds, exotic plants, ruins of a chapel and dense vegetation offer the visitor a most romantic setting. A fine example of the architectural madness of Sintra and a romantic era without limits. It should be noted that the visit of this palace offers a welcome break in front of the flow of tourists from other sites in Sintra because few come there.
#When to go
As for the other destinations of this blog, I advise you to go to Sintra out of season. Spring, autumn or even winter will allow you to walk quietly and avoid tourists in summer. And even in the rain, Sintra has a very attractive face. Weather in Sintra
Lisbon airport 30km away. Prices are generally the cheapest on Easyjet from Paris. Departures also from Nantes, Bordeaux, Lyon and Marseille. Train connections from Rossio station. On site buses serve most tourist sites. Flight search : www.misterfly.fr ; www.skyscanner.com
Whatever the destination, I advise travellers to book accommodation in the centre to fully enjoy the charms of the destination. Be careful, the city of Sintra extends over several districts far from each other, so it is necessary to book accommodation in the Sao Martiho district, which corresponds to the historic centre. The old town of Sintra offers a wide range of accommodation to its visitors. However, few hotels in the historic centre but many charming apartments and guest rooms.
The most beautiful hotel in Sintra located in the old town. A hotel buried in the greenery dating from 1764 where Lord Byron himself stayed. A magnificent place and ideal for a romantic stay. Double room from 170 euros.
Also many rentals on Airbnb and other seasonal rental platforms. A favourite for this charming little house in the shape of a cosy nest with access to the garden and a swimming pool. Cottage romantique
For a search for guest rooms :
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