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Pena Palace, Sintra
The Palacio Nacional da Pena is one of the finest tourist attractions of Portugal and exemplifies the 19th century Romanticism style of architecture. The palace is a hedonistic mix of vividly painted terraces, decorative battlements and mythological statues, all of which stand at stark contrast to the lush greens of the forests that encircle Pena.
The interior of the palace is equally as fascinating, being restored to reflect the decor of 1910, when the Portuguese nobility fled to Brazil to escape the revolution. The forested park lands that surround the palace continue the Romanticism design ideals of the palace, with hidden pathways, ornate features and stunning view points.
Romanticism and dramatic features in the Pena Park
The Palácio da Pena is a wonderful flamboyant complex that is a highlight of any visit to Sintra but this popularity does mean that it can get very crowded, especially during the summer months. This article will provide a tourist guide to Pena Palace and will detail useful (and essential) tourist information.
The brightly painted palace
Pena Palace Sintra Tourist Information
The entrance fee into the Pena Palace is €14/€12.50 (adult/child), a cheaper ticket which provides access to the park and palace terraces (but not the state rooms) costs €7.50/€6.50 (adult/child). This park/terrace ticket allows visitors to explore the exterior of the palace and is ideal for visitors who have little interest in the history or are limited for time.
The decorative entrance to the Pena Palace
Some visitors complain about the ticket prices, as they are higher than many other Portuguese tourist attractions but the non-profit Parques de Sintra organisation reinvests all revenue into the region’s monuments. Over the last 10 years there has been a notable improvement in facilities, restoration and maintenance all funded by tourism.
The Pena Park is open from 09:30 during the summer (10:00 winter) and it is advisable to arrive as early in the day as possible. The palace is best avoided during busy periods of 11-12 and 3-4 when the coach tours or day trippers arrive. At the peak hours there can be long queues to purchase tickets, these tickets can be bought online to save time. A visit to the Pena should take a half day, a rushed 1-hour visit (either by choice or organised tour) does not do justice to this wonderful palace and grounds.
Travel to the Pena Palace
The Pena Palace is situated at the second highest point of the Serra da Sintra (approximately 480m) and it is a very tough uphill hike from the historic centre of Sintra (which is 200m). The recommended means of travel is the 434 tourist bus which connects the train station, the town of Sintra and the Pena Palace in a one direction loop - for more information please click here. There is very little car parking around the Pena palace and Sintra can be swamped in traffic during the summer season.
The 434 Sintra tourist bus
Further Information and History of the Pena Palace Sintra
Queen Amélia spent her last night in Portugal based in the palace before escaping the country for Brazil. Many of the state rooms have been restored to how they were in 1910 and many of the original fittings still remain.
The palace in its present day form was commissioned by Ferdinand August Franz Anton from Austria , who married into the Portuguese royal family and became King Ferdinand II. King Ferdinand II marveled at the stunning views from the rocky outcrop and wished a castle built to rival the Neuschwanstein castle in Bavaria. His only design input was that the palace should reflect an opera and is it was left to Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege to create the magical feather palace.
King Ferdinand II spent much of his later life based in the palace with his second wife, Elise Hensler. On the death of Ferdinand the palace was inherited by Elise Hensler who had become Countess d'made Edla. In 1995, the palace and the Cultural Landscape of Sintra were classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The architectural styling is classified as a 19th century Romanticism styled building. The palace has grotesque gargoyles that peer down over the main entrance, and illusionary spiked walls all below the vividly painted exterior.
Hiking trails through the Pena Park