Pena Palace


The other place that’s on my must-see list in Sintra, Portugal is the Pena Palace, or the Palacio de Pena. This magical storybook structure is perched atop one of the two peaks overlooking the city.


It faces the 13th century Moorish Castle, and the contrast could not be more stark. One is gray, square, and in ruins. The other is painted lively shades of yellow, purple, blue, red, and blends together a medieval chapel, Islamic, Gothic and Renaissance architecture.


This place was amazing, and we definitely ran out of time to explore the expansive grounds around it, including views of Lisbon and the Atlantic ocean.


Travel tip: there’s a city bus that runs a continuous circuit between Sintra and the two castles on the hill, Palacio Pena and the Moorish Castle. It has stops in downtown and near the train station. I think we paid somewhere around 5 euro for a round trip ticket that was good for 24 hours. We finished one day at Palacio Pena, and took the bus up again to the Moorish Castle the next day. Don’t go for the expensive, obnoxious tourist bus.


Inside, there’s the usual stunning array of details.


Hand-carved moldings…


Arches, and tile…


All the tile.


And enviable color pallets. And hardware.


They’re really done a wonderful restoration job as well as maintenance. All the attractions are well marked, with approximate distances for hikes so you can plan your time.


Oh, and there’s a cute little cafe at the top of the Palace. We got coffee. #alwayscoffee


May I just point out that my pants match the building? Thank you.


In the end, it grew dark and cold on the mountain and we shut the place down. Like the security guards were escorting us to the exit. We couldn’t tear ourselves away.

And do I have to even say it? Just go.


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