Monday, 19 October 2015 10:43

Sintra

Culturally very rich area where you can easily spend a whole day

On the 'edge' of the Costa de Prata you can find one of the most de meest interesting places of Portugal.

Palácio Nacional de Sintra

This palace is one of the most important Portuguese examples of royal architecture. It is topped by two large twin chimneys built over the kitchen, which have become the symbol of Sintra. It is the best preserved medieval Royal Palace in Portugal. It is part of the Cultural landscape of Sintra, designated World Heritage Site by Unesco.

Palácio Nacional da Pena

This palace is the most remarkable example of Portuguese Romantic architecture. The palace stands on the top of a hill above the town of Sintra, and on a clear day it can be easily seen from Lisbon. It is a national monument and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. It is also still in use for state occasions by the President of the Portuguese Republic and other government officials.

Castelo dos Mouros

The Moorish Castle dates back to the early days of the Moorish occupation of the Peninsula (the 8th century). The current building is the result of a renovation carried out in the 19th century. The views from its walls and towers are breathtaking.

Convento dos Capuchos

The monastery was built in 1560 by Dom Álvaro de Castro, in fulfillment of a vow by his father, Dom João de Castro. Its tiny cells, small chapel, refectory and other dependencies, installed in the rock and lined with cork, are a telling example of the humble and austere existence of the Franciscan friars who lived here.

Other places of interest in Sintra are: Parque da Pena, Quinta de Monserrate (park), Museu de Arte Moderna (museum of modern art), Museu do Brinquedo (toys museum), and Quinta da Regaleira (palace and gardens).

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www.parquesdesintra.pt

Published in Nature and Culture
Monday, 12 October 2015 13:57

Palace of Mafra

Palace is baroque heart of Mafra

In Mafra you can visit the Palacio Nacional de Mafra, a beatiful palace and monastry. João V demanded the construction in the 18th century, the profits of gold- and diamond mines in Brazil financed the construction.

This vast complex is among the most sumptuous Baroque buildings in Portugal.

The palace is open to the public, although only by guided tours. The tour through the palace takes about one hour, and gives you a good impression of the palace, convent and basilica.

The highlight of the tour is the very impressive Rococo library: 88 m long, over 35,000 leather-bound volumes. Besides natural techniques of conservation for the books, such as the lack of space between the wall and the book (so it doesn't create humidity), there are also a few bats that inhabit this library eating any insect that could destroy this invaluable treasure!

Portuguese writer José Saramago wrote a novel about the construction of the monastry: Memorial do Convento (Memorial of a Convent).

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Outside you can walk around the Tapada Nacional de Mafra, the king’s former wildlife and game reserve. It is a unique nature reserve, over 800 hectares in size, completely enclosed by a wall.
The variety in flora and fauna is impressive.

www.tapadademafra.pt

Published in World Heritages
Monday, 12 October 2015 13:40

National Palace of Queluz

The Portuguese Versailles is definitely worth a visit

Originally the palace was a hunting lodge, but in 1747 Dom Pedro III renovated it into a rococo palace, and he started using it as a summer palace. When he became king in 1760, Dom Pedro III ordered the enlargement of the palace. From 1794 the palace was permanently lived in, until the royal family moved to Brazil because of Napoleon's invasion.

Despite being far smaller, the palace is often referred to as the Portuguese Versailles.

Following a serious fire in 1934, which gutted the interior, the palace was extensively restored.

Both palace and gardens are open to the public.

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Published in Special museums

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