Sintra, Portugal

Known as a city of palaces, encircled by the Sintra Mountains, and located on the Lisbon coast of Portugal, Sintra is a historical city recognized by UNESCO. Setting to both the summer home of the Portuguese royal family and the Moors who ruled Portugal from Lisbon, it offers stunning scenes of Lisbon that is 28 km in distance. Near by are verdant gardens, extravagant estates and resorts situated on the coastline at the furthermost west spot in Europe.

An Arab geographer and later poets verified Sintra’s existence in the 11th century, but the Moors built the Castelo dos Moros earlier by the 9th century. The Portuguese conquered Sintra in the 1100s when Alfonso Henriques commanded that a church be built inside city walls. Christopher Columbus caught site of the Rock of Sintra when he was sailing to the West. 1808 is an important date in Portuguese history when the French invasion of Portugal ended with the Convention of Sintra.

Travelers will be attracted town’s history and culture and to the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park that comprises the Serra de Sintra and continues to the beaches on the coast and to the Cabo da Roca, 18 km west of Sintra, the most western point of Europe.

UNESCO recognized Sintra as a World Heritage Site because it of its cultural legacy. Incorporated in these cultural sites are Quinta da Regaleira encompassing the Palace and Chapel, Pena National Palace, Sintra National Palace, Monserrate Palace, Seteais Palace, and Castle of the Moors.

Getting to Sintra is easy as CP trains run often from several Lisbon stations. Negotiating Sintra is also uncomplicated if riding the bus or walking but not by driving as parking is limited to parking lots below the town. The best choice is to ride the bus around town, stopping at the sites. The walk from Palacio da Pena to the Castelo dos Mouros is a sharply inclined hour-long walk. Other walks in town, such as to Monserrate, are not as arduous.

Travelers could immerse themselves for days in the sites of Sintra. Start at the Tourist information center in town. Travelers have the choice of 10 hotels and 14 restaurants. With more that 10 art and historical museums and houses listed, perhaps two highlights would be the Toy Museum and the Gun Powder Museum. Regaleira Palace and Gardens, started in the late 17th century and built in the late 1800s reflects the Romantic style architecture Sintra is known for and is representative of the many palaces and estates to visit. Poco Iniciatico, an upside down tower, is found in the gardens at Pena. Plan to visit Sintra’s more than seven churches and convents such as Our Lady of Mercy Chapel or Convento dos Capuchos. In walking distance are fountains, the historical Jewish district, restaurants and bars such as Estrada Velha that is traditional, Mourisea – with Moorish influence, and the Hockey Café.

Sintra’s Public market is situated in Sintra’s town center. The market sells all the daily needs for the people of Sintra as well as Porto wine and tourist souvenirs. Unique items from Sintra are cork merchandise such as wallets and umbrellas that are strong as leather.

Sintra’s beaches are the best place to unwind and relax after a day of walking and sightseeing. Long Beach is the longest beach. Apple Beach is called so because the river that runs into Praia das Macas had apple trees along the bank and the apples ended up on the beach. The beach has lifeguards and local bars and cafes.


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