It is time to present my pick for number one place to visit in Sintra -> the beautiful Monserrate Palace, with an equally beautiful garden/hunting grounds and surprises.
This is Monserrate Palace in a few images:
020.1 The Monserrate Palace
020.2 Oriental details that ornate the Palace
020.3 Huge garden featuring flowers from all continents (Agapanthus africanus for this picture)
020.4 False ruins of a chapel
This is the final article about Sintra and yes it is the 5th. Well, for the moment at least… But since the world is so huge, I think I will focus on other places as well.
Because Monserrate was the last place I wanted to visit in Sintra, I went on foot from the hotel to get a last look on what I’ve seen so far in the city.
The trip on foot (from the train station) to Monserrate, took me almost one hour and a half, but that is because I took many photos on the way. Normally it should take under 1 hour (4 Km distance).
Also, if you don’t want to walk, or if it rains, there are also busses (or minibuses): 435 and 516.
Anyway, while walking I took the liberty and made some more shots along the way to remember the journey so far:
020.5 Moors Castle (the walls) – article 018
020.7 Stretching the zoom lens to get a shot at Pena Palace – article 019
And you can see on the map (posted above the article), that getting a view over the main attractions from far, is really possible, if you get a zoom lens with you.
After the Regaleira Palace, on the same road, comes the Seteais Palace. From here the road becomes pretty narrow and besides occasional fountains and the forest, from time to time another Estate (quinta) makes it’s appearance.
020.9 Somewhere on road to Monserrate
As you reach a wooden totem (built on the hunting grounds of Monserrate Estate) you know that you almost reached the destination.
020.10 Wooden Totem
Once inside, keep note of the big map they provided. Lots of flowers to see, big park to walk and beautiful palace. So why not start by taking a pause and enjoying a good coffee or tea?
020.11 The Boulder House (in this area you will a good coffee or an ice tea after a good long walk)
Now that we are ready to explore, if you got a camera, then take it out of your pocket/bag and enjoy the multitude of flowers that give colours to the gardens of Monserrate.
020.13 White Passion flower
With the help of the map (given at the entry) you can get directions to Viewpoints.
One such viewpoint, is not far from the entry and you can admire the Palace and the Ocean, in one frame 😊 but for that you might need a zoom lens. I had my good old 18-125mm zoom lens from Canon. (but Nikon/Fuji/Sony they all have this travel type lens)
020.14 Monserrate Palace and the Ocean
With this view, you would understand why the rich people would like to come here… is beautiful, the climate is sweet, and you are not that far from both civilization and smooth sand and blue waves. Also because you are not on top of a mountain, is more warm and less windy.
And to top the view, the garden is made to show of even more:
020.15 Unknown flower (did not find it in my books, nor on Google)
020.16 Aeonium lindleyi flower
020.17 Water lily
And this is not all. There are plants and trees from Australia, Mexico, Japan and even Egypt. Yeah pretty much all continents, except maybe Antarctica. And they are all better organized than at Pena Palace. I did not bother with the rose garden as I already saw a very beautiful one at Ponte de Lima and I featured it on the 003 article.
Another big seller for me was the ruin chapel built inside the garden.
020.18 Ruin of a chapel
It was built (as a ruin) more like a reminder to what used to be at Monserrate a long long time ago:
Before anything, the legend says that in this area (Monserrate) there was an old chapel to mark a grave. After that, another one took it’s place in the 16th century. Then the Palace took the place of this second Chapel and then that too was replaced by this very beautiful renovated palace.
020.19 View through the arch
I guess the best photos here can be made when is misty outside, but then again, you cannot make great photos of flowers and such because they will not be that opened and it will be a lot of humidity in the air. Also the place is not opened (nothing really in Sintra) early morning. Since is Portugal, and most likely you come on late spring or summer, it means that daybreak is very early. I say this because I lived for 2 years in Spain (more on that later) and many times, if not most times, in the morning there was haze, coming from the mountains or from the ocean. When I saw this abbey ruin, that kind of mood for my picture I had in mind.
So the English architect did a great job in representing a ruin, even if it looks like those found in UK and not in Portugal/Iberic Peninsula.
There is something fundamentally odd at Sintra. Portuguese people build a Palace that looks a bit Germanic and Oriental. Moors build a fortress that looks pretty much like any other… Then Regaleira is filled with mysticism, occult, magic, romanticism and belief. It is the most impressive in the smallest space. Then English people build Monserrate and they make it in part English and… I mean the only place that comes to my mind is Vegas, but that one is more grotesque and has no history, because is very modern still.
I think is time to talk about this Palace a bit.
020.21 Palace of Monserrate
020.22 Details at the entrance
This whole place was built by English people for the English owners . So if I had zero pictures about it, and I had to guess how it would look like, I would say it is made out of square shapes done with red bricks.
No😊, and I would not have guessed the oriental motif either. This palace seems to be made by Moors and not by people of England. But then again I saw other influences in England that come from all around the world, in a much larger scale.
020.23 Main cupola
And oh my! when you get inside is even more beautiful than ever imagined. The exterior is cute and all, but inside is like for the kings. It is so beautiful!!! No wonder if you search Monserrate on Google, many websites are related to wedding photography. Lots of people taking photos here, so yeah good luck finding the place empty.
020.24 First floor, near the main cupola
If I were to live in Lisbon, I think I would come here so often, until I could learn to draw (in 2D) and then reproduce the tiniest detail, just because I know I will not have a place like this but I can have it on paper, made at the spot, every detail!
Away from the main tower an even more dreamy passage, named the Gallery, is unveiling before our eyes. Perfect geometry, warm artificial light, paired with natural light make this hallway soo beautiful! And all without one single painting on the walls. Sadly is the hardest to take into photo because you are blocking the passage, and that is rude 🙂
020.25 The gallery
020.26 The gallery, upwards
When I look now at my pictures, I see how a camera (photo or video) cannot do justice to the real thing. And I do not refer to not being able to touch it, but rather feel the space and the temperature and the natural colors of that day. And as you look, you see all the details and the veins made out of marble or stone. So beautiful!
From here, from the gallery, you can also visit the library, pretty quiet place and fit for reading. Of course today we would like big windows and rocking chairs instead of a huge pristine table.
020.27 The library
This place has also a billiard room, a cuisine (not that great to be honest), a chapel (that was closed), a music room aaaand:
020.28 The roof of the south tower
Another tower, another masterpiece -> This palace has the most interesting roofs, and floors.
I think that in the future, no technology would make you look up on the ceiling and be just in awe. (except maybe tunnels through a reef)
And just like that I had to run out of the Palace, out of Monserrate. on the alley, at the bus station and on to the Train Station, still discussing with my wife about what was the best thing she saw at Sintra.
020.29 Leaving Sintra
Sintra, for me, is the best place to visit in Europe. It has colorful palaces, rich gardens that are always green and always interesting. It has trails up on the mountain, or more calm along the main road. It has history, lots of romantic places, good coffee, good food (even fast-food), and the whole place is a park. Meaning that you are better off without a car and you are always surrounded by people, so you won’t feel alone or lost in the woods.
Sintra impressed me the most in the whole Iberic peninsula.
Good job Sintra, good job!
Now, on pixelstravel.com we will go to Lisbon next, but in real life, I returned home, with the sick making machine: The Alpha Pendular. And it would be many months until I go to Lisbon for the first time.
020.30 Inside the Alpha Pendular train.
See you in 2 weeks, at Lisbon in 3 articles.