See the Pena Palace, Sintra

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 The small Portuguese town of Sintra is known for its many 19th-century Romantic architectural monuments.

One of the most eyecatching is the Pena Palace, perched high above the town it is a Disneyesque riot of colour and architectural quirks.

We visited on a perfect sunny day, the blue of the sky contrastingly stunningly with the child’s paintbox colour of the palace.

The palace is a national monument and is one of the major expressions of 19th-century Romanticism in the world.

The palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and unsurprisingly is also one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.

The palace had humble beginnings, starting as a small chapel it then became a monastery before being reduced to ruins.

In 1838, King consort Ferdinand II, he decided to acquire the ruins, all of the surrounding lands, the nearby Castle of the Moors and a few other estates in the area.

He then set out to turn the remains of the monastery into a palace that would serve as a summer residence for the Portuguese royal family.

The palace really is an architectural and photographic dreams. It has a wild mix of styles in line with the exotic taste of  Romanticism. The intentional mixture of eclectic styles includes the Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, Neo-Islamic and Neo-Renaissance.

References to other prominent Portuguese buildings such as the Belém Tower are also present.

Over time the colours of the red and yellow façades faded, and for many years the palace became entirely grey.

But thankfully at  the end of the 20th century the palace was repainted and the original vivid colours restored.

In 1995, the palace and the rest of the Cultural Landscape of Sintra were classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.


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