It’s about time I got around to writing about Pena Palace…
“Today is the happiest day of my life. I know Italy, Sicily, Greece and Egypt, and I have never seen anything, anything, to match the Pena. It is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. This is the true Garden of Klingsor and there, up above, is the Castle of the Holy Grail.” – Richard Strauss
I’m heading back to Portugal this coming weekend and couldn’t be more excited! Visiting Lisbon, Portugal’s famed capital, was one of my favorite trips of last year and the city quite effortlessly became one of my favorites in Europe! I was lovin’ up on everything that Lisbon had to offer and was blown away by their extremely affordable, mouthwatering cuisine. Let’s just say thanks to Lisbon, I’ve got high hopes for Porto!
Even though I couldn’t get enough of Lisbon, my friends and I decided to dedicate one day to venturing just outside of the city, to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Sintra. Everyone I asked had insisted that Sintra was a must see during any trip to Lisbon, so against my will we willingly left behind our beloved Lisbon to make the trip.
All I can say now is, thank god we did. The city of Sintra, a favorite among 18th century Portuguese royalty, is charming in itself, bursting with colorful romantic architecture and lavish dreamy retreats, but what made the trip worth it for me was “Palácio Nacional da Pena” or Pena National Palace.
Pena Palace seems as though it was constructed from the whirlwind of a child’s imagination. It is the crafted perfection of a fairy-tale castle, sitting high upon a sturdy foundation of rock, deeply nestled in a luscious green forest. This candy-colored château is nothing short of a Walt Disney creation, a twisting maze of enchanting towers, alarming gargoyles and glistening golden domes.
While trekking up the steep hill towards Pena Palace, you’re only awarded small glimpses of her exotic pastel hues. It isn’t until you reach the main terrace that you can fully appreciate her extravagance.
I couldn’t help but gawk at the surreal palace before me. This castle wasn’t just built as a tourist attraction? People actually lived here? Huh?
I casually strolled through Arabic archways and passed cannon towers making my way towards the Queen’s Terrace. Talk about a photo-op. The Queen’s terrace at Pena Palace offers one of the most spectacular panoramic views that I have ever experienced.
Atop the terrace you feel as though you are standing in the place of the Queen herself, nobly gazing at the country below you with a sense of pride and power. From here you are truly able to admire her beloved palace while being swept away by its whimsical harmony of varying styles- the unconventional contrast of Moorish, Gothic, Egyptian and Renaissance elements.
“The view that is enjoyed from there simultaneously gives us a sensation of amazement, pleasure and fear.”- Carl Israel Ruders
Couldn’t have said it better myself, Carl.
Heading to Lisbon soon? Don’t hesitate to make your way to Sintra!!
Have you ever been to Pena Palace? What did you think?
Also, I’m welcoming any suggestions for Porto!! 🙂