Henry Poon's Blog

Sintra: Discovering Portugal’s Fairytale Destination

The following blog post was written with the assistance of ChatGPT

On the day we had to check out of our accommodations was the day that we felt the worst from the food poisoning we got the day before, so we couldn’t just stay in the room to sleep it all off. Instead, we had to continue on our itinerary as before and went on a day trip to Sintra. The entire day at Sintra was a struggle, trying to walk around with a light fever.

The drive to Sintra look way longer than expected because of some road closures that required us to take the long way around to get to the parking lot. To make matters worse, Google Maps was showing all the wrong directions – roads that appeared on the map were actually narrow unpaved access roads that were not publically accessible. We ended up driving all the way around the mountain, through narrow small town roads with steep corners up and down hills until we lucked out and reached the parking lot. It felt a lot like navigating in Antibes. From the parking lot, we took a tuk-tuk to the palace since we were going to be late for our visit reservation. On our way out, we even saw a group of tourists in a van that got stuck trying to make a multi-point turn because they ended up facing the wrong way on a one-way street.

Sintra is a picturesque town located in the foothills of the Sintra Mountains in Portugal, just a short distance from Lisbon. The main attraction for us there was the stunning Pena Palace, which boasts a colourful exterior, Gothic turrets, and an ornate interior. The exterior of the palace is painted in bright, vibrant colours, with shades of red, yellow, and blue standing out against the green backdrop of the surrounding forest.

The palace was built in the 19th century by King Ferdinand II, who was inspired by the Romanticism movement and wanted to create a whimsical and exotic castle that reflected his tastes. The result is a stunning fusion of architectural styles that incorporates Gothic, Moorish, and Renaissance elements, among others.

Inside the palace, we explored a series of ornate rooms, including a courtyard, a banquet hall, a music room, and a throne room. The interior is decorated with intricate carvings, frescoes, and tapestries, and is a testament to the wealth of the Portuguese royal family.

Interior decorations feature Portuguese tiles, also known as azulejos, a distinctive form of decorative tilework that originated in Portugal in the 13th century. Azulejos are typically made of glazed ceramic and are used to adorn the walls and floors of homes, public buildings, and places of worship. The designs are known for their intricate patterns, vibrant colors, and the use of repeating motifs such as flowers, birds, and geometric shapes.

Sintra is unlike the other castles I’ve visited before. The architecture style is completely different from the typical European castles like Neuschwanstein, Hohenzollern, or Carcassonne. This one is a lot more colourful and dynamic – there’s a combination of ornate carvings, vegetation, and overall structural beauty.

See more photos of Sintra here

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