Nature and Culture

To enjoy!

Both nature- and culture lovers won´t miss a thing in this region. Naturepark Serra d’Aire e Candeeiros for instance is 400 km2 large and a real paradise for hikers and mountain-bikers. The large amount of historical buildings and cities, de farmers markets, the (fado) concerts and museums making the Portuguese culture palpable.

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

Islands close to Peniche are beautiful nature reserve

The Berlengas archipelago, Ilhas Berlengas, is a group of small islands off the Portuguese coast at about 10 km. from Peniche. The whole of the archipelago is a nature reserve.

The islands are uninhabited, only on the main island some people live on a permanent basis. They take care of the lighthouse, and control the reserve.


Some native plant species can be found on the islands. Also the islands are a breeding ground for many bird species, and they offer stopover space to migrating birds.

The largest island is Berlenga Grande. Here you can find the São João Baptista fort, built in 1502 in manuelino style. The fort is connected to the island by a narrow bridge. The fort was partly converted into a pousada (hotel).

Around the fort fishermen offer boattrips, to show you the island from sea, so you can see some caves and interesting rock formations.

To see everything the island has to offer you can follow the marked footpath. This takes you to the fort, caves, the lighthouse, beautiful beaches with crystal clear water, and to some spots that give you spectacular views.

The islands also attract many divers who enjoy the beautiful underwater flora and fauna.

From May to October the islands are open to the public. From the harbour of Peniche you can take the boat, the crossing takes about 45 minutes. It is recommended to make reservations for the boattrip, especially during summer months, because only a limited number of people per day are allowed on the island.

www.berlengas.eu

www.viamar-berlenga.com

www.feelingberlenga.pt

 

 

Beautiful gardens with baroque structures

In Mafra you can visit the beautiful Cerco gardens. They offer a combination of baroque structures and wonderful gardens and water features. The wide paths give every visitor the opportunity to enjoy the gardens to the max.

www.cm-mafra.pt

Artisanal salt production from underground source

The Salinas, or salt pans, are 3 kilometers from Rio Maior, ate the base of the Serras de Aire e de Candeeiros.

Salt is still being produced today, using traditional methods, and stored in the same way as 8 centuries ago. The salt pans are wide and deep, and the salt water springs from an ancient well.

The water is very salt, much saltier than seawater. The water is pumped up to fill the shallow stone or cement ponds (marinhas do sal).

After 8 days the water has evaporated, and the salt is stored in the wooden houses. The locks and keys of these houses are all made from wood, like in the Roman ages.

There is also a hiking trail, a restaurant, some cafes, and a tourist office.