The Pena Palace stands on the top of a hill in the Sintra Mountains above the town of Sintra, and on a clear day it can be easily seen from Lisbon and much of its metropolitan area. It is a national monument and constitutes one of the major expressions of 19th-century Romanticism in the world. The palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. It is also used for state occasions by the President of the Portuguese Republic and other government officials.

The castle's history started in the Middle Ages when a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Pena was built on the top of the hill above Sintra. In 1493, King John II, accompanied by his wife Queen Leonor, made a pilgrimage to the site to fulfill a vow. His successor, King Manuel I, was also very fond of this sanctuary, and ordered the construction of a monastery on this site. For centuries Pena was a small, quiet place for meditation, housing a maximum of eighteen monks.

In the 18th century the monastery was severely damaged by lightning. However, it was the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755, occurring shortly afterwards, that took the heaviest toll on the monastery, reducing it to ruins. Nonetheless, the chapel (and its works of marble and alabaster) escaped without significant damage.

For many decades the ruins remained untouched, but they still astonished young prince Ferdinand. In 1838, as King consort Ferdinand II, he decided to acquire the old monastery, all of the surrounding lands, the nearby Castle of the Moors and a few other estates in the area. King Ferdinand then set out to transform the remains of the monastery into a palace that would serve as a summer residence for the Portuguese royal family. The commission for the Romantic style rebuilding was given to Lieutenant-General and mining engineer Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege. Eschwege, a German amateur architect, was much traveled and likely had knowledge of several castles along the Rhine river. The construction took place between 1842–1854, although it was almost completed in 1847: King Ferdinand and Queen Maria II intervened decisively on matters of decoration and symbolism. Among others, the King suggested vault arches, Medieval and Islamic elements be included, and he also designed an ornate window for the main façade.

After the death of Ferdinand the palace passed into the possession of his second wife Elisa Hensler, Countess of Edla. The latter then sold the palace to King Luís, who wanted to retrieve it for the royal family, and thereafter the palace was frequently used by the family. In 1889 it was purchased by the Portuguese State, and after the Republican Revolution of 1910 it was classified as a national monument and transformed into a museum. The last queen of Portugal, Queen Amélia, spent her last night at the palace before leaving the country in exile.

The palace quickly drew visitors and became one of Portugal's most visited monuments. Over time the colors of the red and yellow façades faded, and for many years the palace was visually identified as being entirely gray. By the end of the 20th century the palace was repainted and the original colors restored.

In 1995, the palace and the rest of the Cultural Landscape of Sintra were classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

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Founded: 1842-1854
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Portugal

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4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Simon Rogers (19 months ago)
A really beautiful palace with stunning views. Get the ordinary bus there it's the cheapest option. A seriously steep climb but transport is available. Better to go earlier to avoid the queues. Well worth the visit. Sintra is the most beautiful place to go.
Beatriz Escabelado (19 months ago)
I loved this place. Sintra is one of my favourite places in Lisbon district. It's so green, and calm and beautiful. I love nature and everything natural, this landscape is so nice and simple and naturally good in the eyes. It's a magical place and the palace and its colours go so well with the view. You should come here, you won't regret it.
Ines Sol (19 months ago)
Perfect for a day trip from Lisbon. In case you don't want to climb the whole mountain I suggest taking one of the little busses. The restaurant has delicious meals and is moderate in pricing. I highly recommend a visit around the park after visiting the palace. The park is just as stunning and beautiful as the palace itself.
Mark McConachie (20 months ago)
Wonderful fairytale style castle-cum-palace set high atop a hill above the town. Be aware that although it's on 2km out of town, it is a steep and fairly brutal path to get there. The interiors are magnificent in their opulence. You can walk the walls. The views across the countryside are fabulous, and you get a view of the Castle on the next hill. Nice restaurant too. Recommended.
Oleksandr Protsenko (21 months ago)
Palacio da Pena Pena Palace. Unforgettable place - a park and a palace in the vicinity of the wonderful town of Sintra. Cool park. The palace is a mixture of ideas, colors and styles (Gothic, Renaissance, Neo Manuelism and Moorish style). Палац Пена. Шикарне незабутнє місце - парк і палац в околицях чудесного містечка Синтра. Класний парк. Палац - мікс ідей, кольорів та стилів (готика, ренесанс, нео мануелізм і мавританського стилю). Дворец Пена. Шикарное незабываемое место - парк и дворец в окрестностях чудесного городка Синтра. Классный парк. Дворец - смешение идей, цветов, стилей (готика, ренессанс, нео мануелизм и мавританского стиля).
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