There are a few reasons why I think that the Pena Palace (Palácio da Pena in Portuguese) is the best palace in Sintra, Portugal, even though there are some other gorgeous ones in town, too. And having visited hundreds of palaces and castles around the world, I can definitely say it sits comfortably in my World’s Top5 List of Beautiful Castles & Palaces! No, I’ve never compiled such a list, but you get my point! 😀
So, these are some of the reasons why I find it so gorgeous and I think you should, too!
1. It looks like a 3 in 1 Disney palace!
Architecturally it falls under the 19th century Neo-Romanticism. But there are clear influences from the Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, Neo-Moorish and Neo-Renaissance styles of architecture! And Neo-Disney I’d also add with all its vivid, a bit extravagant, fairytale colours!
Imagine a Romantic palace that used to be a monastery with islamic arches, gothic towers, moorish geometric tiles, some renaissance elements etc, all in the shades of red, yellow and purple!
It, also, sits on top of a hill in Sintra and the location adds to its beauty!
2. It has some of the nicest courtyards you’ve seen!
There’s a pretty and humble one like this one:
Or a more grandiose like this one:
3. There’s this unusual yet elegant handrail!
4. The views are gorgeous!
There’s a great view to Sintra’s Moorish Castle:
There’s an unobstructed view to the countryside:
And if you don’t like the view, its framing is enough to awaken the Instagram photographer (or poser) in you!
5. You’ll see the cutest violin ever!
6. Probably the world’s humblest royal dining room!
Despite being a flamboyant palace when it comes to its exteriors, I find this dining room to be very humble! And borderline disappointing! I’ll blame it on the influences of the building’s monastery past!
7. The Valley of the Lakes!
Situated in the area around the Pena Palace, the Valley of the Lakes consists of a few lakes with follies and even some black swans!
8. The most original baking shape cutters can be found in its kitchen!
I’m not sure there are a lot of biscuit cutters left in royal residences around the world on display to be honest! Nevertheless, I’ll give these ones the title of the most original ones on earth without a second thought!
9. The random artwork you come across in its gardens!
Like this pretty and photogenic one:
10. The town itself and its surroundings
The Pena Palace is on top of a hill in the charming town of Sintra and it’s only one of many beautiful palaces in the area! After you visit the best palace in Sintra (you’ll find more practical info here), try to make time to visit:
– the mysterious Quinta da Regaleira with its out of this world inverted tower well and all of its masonic symbolisms!
– the (often not included in the list of must visit places in Sintra) Monserrate Palace and its amazing gardens with the waterfall and the chapel ruins!
Do you agree that it’s the best palace in Sintra? Isn’t it very unique and straight out of a Disney fairytale?
Or is it too flamboyant and should tone it down a little bit? 😀