Palacio da Pena
comes to Portugal. Not quite.
Another of Sintra's hot attractions is this twisted gothic castle of Pena National Palace in a thoroughly excessive Germanic Manueline style. Fully loaded with
all the options - battlements, domes, towers, ramparts and peculiar
statues it was built around 1845 by Queen Maria's husband Ferdinand,
in collusion with a Prussian architect.
The outside alone is worth a good long look, but inside hosts a museum
that is more or less how it was in 1910 when the revolution came to
town and the royal family did a quick disappearing act.
Rooms entirely of Meissen porcelain, life-size statues of black slaves,
trompe l'oeil wall paintings, Eiffel furniture and even naughty nude
murals painted by Dom Carlos I.
The place is uncomfortably stuffed
by modern standards but it's not difficult to imagine the royal goings-on
here, if the excitable Italian groups will just give you a little
elbow room to contemplate it. Try to go early or late in order to
savour the place properly.
shady walk up here is beautiful but buses are on hand to help if necessary.
And don't forget the Moorish
Castle, lovely, tranquil Pena Park (with a posted 1.5 hour walk),
and the simple, troglodyte Capuchin monastery are also in the vicinity,
so make a full day of it.
Mafra is nearby, as
is the lovely beach of Guincho.
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