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Ruínas da Capela de Monserrate - the tree-covered chapel ruins of Sintra

The ruins of the Capela de Monserrate are among the most atmospheric and unique sights of Sintra.

Here, the lush and ancient forest has completely enveloped the ruins of a chapel - with dramatic effect. Trees have established themselves within the upper cracks of the stone building, with thick roots and vines creeping down the length of its walls.

While the ruins may be small, they are undoubtedly one of the Sintra’s most alluring and magical sights.

The Ruínas da Capela de Monserrate lie within the grounds of the Monserrate Palace, which is also one of the most underrated attractions in Sintra.

Ruínas da Capela de Monserrate sintra
tree-covered chapel ruins of Sintra

Are the Ruínas da Capela de Monserrate the Ta Prohm/ Angkor Wat of Portugal?

Ta Prohm in Cambodia, part of the Angkor Wat complex, is a truly breathtaking sight to behold. The Ruínas da Capela de Monserrate are significantly smaller and cannot truly be compared to Ta Prohm, but the enveloping forest and mystical setting do evoke a very similar atmosphere.

If you visit Monserrate expecting something as grand as Angkor Wat, you will likely be disappointed. However, if you view it on its own merits you are sure to be amazed - or at the very least you will leave with some dramatic photos!

Tourist information for the Capela de Monserrate tree ruins

The chapel lies within the grounds of the Palácio de Monserrate, at GPS coordinates 38.7928, -9.420 link to Google Maps). Monserrate Palace is one of the quietest sights of Sintra, making it a fantastic place to visit during the peak season.

The admission fee to Monserrate, which includes the Capela de Monserrate, is €12 for adults, with discounted tickets (€10) for youths aged 6 to 17 and seniors over 65. There is also a family ticket costing €33.

The Palácio de Monserrate lies 3km from the historic centre of Sintra and 4km from the train station. The best way to travel here is to catch the 435 bus that departs from the train station, with a single ticket costing €3.75. This bus may be very busy as it also passes the Quinta da Regaleira, a very popular tourist attraction. Another option is the 1253 bus from Sintra to the Cabo da Roca, which stops outside of Monserrate palace.

The Ruínas da Capela de Monserrate is only a single building, so a typical visit will take just 10 to 15 minutes – long enough to get the famous photos! You can expect it to be popular at peak times (10am to 3pm), so it’s better to visit early or late in the day if you want a photo free from others. The palace grounds open at 9am and close at 7pm, with the last ticket sold at 5pm. Opening hours will be shorter during the low season, but there will be fewer tourists at peak times.

This side of the Sintra hills gets significantly more rain than the rest of the region, so you can expect some rain if visiting outside of the summer months.

Ruínas da Capela de Monserrate
History of the Capela de Monserrate

Despite their ancient appearance, the Ruínas da Capela de Monserrate were actually created in 1863 as an elaborate garden feature for the Palácio de Monserrate. A chapel had stood on this site since the 1540s, known as the Capela de Nossa Senhora de Monserrate, but it had fallen into ruin before Monserrate's transformation under the direction of Francis Cook in the mid-19th century.

Cook’s vision embraced the era’s ideals of Romanticism and fantasy, creating a ruin that appeared to be swallowed up by the lush Sintra forest. These trees were not naturally occurring, but are in fact species not native to Portugal that were specifically planted. Rubber trees were used due to their expansive roots, along with vines to enhance the effect.

The chapel would have been a mysterious and attention-grabbing garden feature in the 19th century, and has become even more spectacular with each passing year.

Originally, the chapel ruins contained three Etruscan sarcophagi, adding to the other-worldly atmosphere of the site, but these were removed in the mid-20th century.

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A tourism guide to Sintra Portugal
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The digital landscape is evolving, and small publishers like us are feeling the pressure. Search engine biases and AI plagiarism have made it increasingly challenging to thrive.
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A tourism guide to Sintra Portugal
Sights and activities of Sintra
Secret Sintra
Day trip to Sintra
How many days to spend in sintra
Lisbon to Sintra
Palácio de Monserrate, Sintra
Sintra beaches
434 tourist bus sintra
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lisbon beaches
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A tourism guide to Sintra Portugal
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Lisbon to Sintra
Palácio de Monserrate, Sintra
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