In search of romanticism: Pena National Palace in Portugal
Discovering all that Lisbon had to offer is terrific, but no tour of this historic city is complete without a jaunt to Sintra to see the Pena National Palace in Portugal (The Palacio Nacional da Pena or The Feather Palace).
The trip begins in one of the most eye catching rail stations in the world, Rossio rail station in Baixa. This magnificent station is the main transport mode to Sintra, the fairy tale town, where Pena National Palace is nestled. The trip from Rossio station, in Baixa downtown Lisbon, takes about 40 minutes. The journey is pleasant with perhaps views of the longest stretch of street art I have ever seen.
It is best to pay a few Euros to board the local tour bus which passes through the main tourist attractions once in Sintra, including Pena castle.
Pena National Palace, built in 1840 looks more impressive in reality. Photos could not possibly do it justice. The kaleidoscope of colour alone will remind you of the finest rainbow you’ve ever seen. The castle was commissioned by a king who clearly had an eye for flamboyant aesthetics. Looking at the castle from its exterior, it seemed it was designed individually In sections and put together seamlessly .The carvings and stone work are extraordinary. The surrounding mini forest and foliage cloth the undulating exoteric hills around Pena National Palace.
The main entrance to the interior has a rather frightening carving of the depiction of a newt, symbolizing the allegory of creation of the world.
The interior, however, is relatively underwhelming. The rooms, all decorated in Victorian and Edwardian splendour, including paintings, porcelain and furnishings seem too small for a Palace. There is a blue tiled courtyard in the middle of the Palace which also seems less than palatial. The kitchen, however, was extraordinary. Food and food preparation must have been of the utmost importance to the royals in Pena castle. If you are a foodie with any semblance of interest in kitchen utensils then you will be taken in by Pena Castle’s collection of copper cook ware.
It took an hour and a half to walk up to the Palace itself and to tour the exterior and to take a peak into every room made available to the public. Pena National Palace and indeed the whole of Sintra is a UNESCO World Heritage site and for good reason too. The town and Pena National Palace are simply magical, mysterious and gems on Portugal’s atlantic coast. and definitely worth a day’s trip if you ever happen to find yourself in Lisbon.