Pena National Palace

12:25:00 AM Unknown 1 Comments

After climbing around the walls of the Moorish Castle we walked up the road to the Unesco World Heritage site of Pena Palace.  Originally a monastery, King Ferdinand II converted it to a summer residence for the royal family in 1838.  It was a perfect day, the sun was shining, the sky was blue and the temperature was a perfect 70*.  The palace only makes up a small portion of what there is to see; the gardens are substantial and worthwhile.  We only spent about 2 hours at the palace, but you could very easily spend half a day. 

The Details
Pena Palace
Address:  Estrada da Pena, 2710-609 Sintra, Portugal
Hours: Daily 10am-6pm, closed Jan 1st & Dec 25 
Cost: €11 adults, €9 children.  There are several combo options see website for details
Getting There: We had a rental car so we drove, but parking was difficult and our GPS got us lost a couple of times.  My favorite tour guide, Rick Steves', recommends taking the train from Lisbon.  This option requires a bit more walking, but we noticed the tourist bus 432 coming and going all day, so you can definitely get around on public transportation.
Tip: cafe on site serves a small selection of pastries and sandwiches.

The palace is so visually impactful it kept my daughters interested.  They kept looking around the next corner to find bright tiles, towers, turrets and and gates. It's also helpful that the gardens are so extensive.  This allowed them some time to be boisterous and burn off a bit of energy.  

The architecture is an eclectic mashing of styles including Romantic, Max-Emanueline, Neo-Gothic, and Neo-Islamic. Notice the bizarre serpent/triton below emerging from a seashell--You can't really see because of the angle of my photo, but out of his head grows a tree and he holds 2 branches in his hands.  He represents the creation of the world.  The exterior of the palace is decorated with many unique motifs, all unrelated, but somehow find harmony.  The bright colors add to it's fairytale quality.
While we enjoyed sunny skies, a friend of mine went when the palace was shrouded in fog and mist.  Her pictures are so cool and add a different dimension.   So, don't be put off by bad weather, sometimes it adds well to the experience and almost guarantees you fewer tourists. 

I loved the vaults and stucco work on the interior.

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