The Santuario da Peninha is one of the highlights of the Serra da Sintra National Park but this remote and isolated chapel and palace is virtually unknown by foreign tourists. Peninha stands atop a craggy rocky outcrop and this dramatic, wind blasted location provides spectacular views over the entire Sintra coastline.
The Santuario da Peninha and Palace
The stunning views, which on a clear day can view Berlengas Islands to the north and Cape Espichel to the south.
Sanctuary of Peninha; which contains a beautiful baroque interior and Azulejo tiles that depict the life of the Virgin Mary. Sadly, the interior of the chapel is closed to the public, but the terraces can be explored.
The ancient and ruined hermitage of San Saturnino.
The Palace of Peninha, which dates from 1918 and was constructed by Carvalho Monteiro, the man who also built the Quinta da Regaleira. The small palace was never lived in and is not open to the public.
There is no entrance fee to visit Peninha and typical visit last between 15mintes to 1 hour. The main attraction are the stunning views as the building are closed off to the public. There is no public transport to Peninha and it is only possible to reach this isolated location via car (or electric bike/car). It is too far to walk from central Sintra and the hike takes around 4 hours. The exposed rock out crop of Peninha can experience extremes of weather, it is almost constantly battered by strong winds and the close proximity to the ocean can have the summit shrouded in fog.
There has been a small hermitage on the side of the Peninha hills since the foundation of Christianism in Portugal. The location became venerated during the rule of King João III (1521 - 1557) as the Virgin Mary appeared to a young shepherdess who had lost all of her sheep. The Peninha Chapel was constructed a century later after the apparition and was finished in 1710.
Inside the hermitage of San Saturnino
The chapel became a popular pilgrimage site for the families of sailors who would spend time at the chapel praying for the safe return of their sailor husbands. The location was popular also as from the summit of Peninha it is possible to view out for 50km and was one of the first locations to spot returning ships.
Fog rolls in on a sunny day....
The third stage of construction at Peninha was the mansion built by Carvalho Monteiro. The house was built in the Romanticism architectural style with decretive battlements, multi levelled terraces and ornate styling but was never lived in as Carvalho died before it’s completion.
Both Pena and Peninha are named after the Portuguese word for “rock outcrop” as they were both constructed on the highest points of the Serra da Sintra. In the Portuguese language the “inha” ending implies something smaller/younger/lesser, therefore Peninha is the smaller version of Pena. This name is very apt as Carvalho’s vision for Peninha was to construct a lesser version of the magnificent Pena Palace.
The massive granite rocks of Peninha
The Santuário da Peninha is close to the town of Malveira da Serra part way between Sintra and Cascais. From Sintra head south along the N9 towards Cascais, at approximately 6km from Sintra turn right onto the N9-1 which is signed to Malveira da Serra. Head along this road for approximately 7km, just before the village (after the switchbacks), turn right on to Caminho dos Fetos a narrow but paved road. The journey is a further 2.5km along this road; after 400m take a right at crossroads, then after 1.3km turn right at the T-junction after this continue straight on and uphill to the Peninha Chapel.