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Portugal Part 4: Sintra, Cabo da Roca and Cascais

Updated: Aug 27, 2023

Sintra is a resort town and UNESCO World Heritage Site, at the base of the Sintra Mountains. Sintra is located about 20 miles from Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal. Poets such as Lord Byron and authors such as Hans Christen Andersen have sung its praises, calling it Eden-esque and describing it as the most beautiful place in Portugal.

Just above Sintra, is the Pena Palace, which is where I was headed. In order to reach the palace, we walked uphill through Pena Park.

The park is filled with paths, pavilions, ponds and exotic trees.

Palácio da Pena

The Palácio da Pena, or Pena Palace, is situated on the top of a hill. The highlight of the palace is the Queen’s Terrace, on top of which the beautiful clock tower was built.

The Pena Palace is famous for its 19th century Romanticist architecture. The palace was originally built as a medieval chapel. Thereafter, King Manuel I overtook it and built a monastery on the grounds, which he then donated to the Order of Saint Jerome.

After being damaged by the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755, the palace and the monastery were purchased by Portuguese King, Ferdinand II to be rebuilt as his summer residence. From the castle, you get panoramic views of the lush forest, as well as the Atlantic Ocean. On a clear day, this brightly colored palace can be seen from Lisbon.

The palace grounds are opulent with intricate tile work adorning the walls and many courtyards.

The Triton Gateway

One of the most impressive and frightening aspects of the castle, is the entrance to one of the terraces guarded by King Triton. He makes the other gargoyles on the premises appear gentle.

Royal Bedroom

The main bedroom in the Palace of Pena is covered in 19th century wall tiles. Ferdinand II originally intended for this to be the chambers for himself and his wife, Queen Maria II but, the queen died before construction was completed. Thereafter, he married the Countess of Edla and shared the bedroom with her.

Fall Front Cabinet

These fall front cabinets functioned as storage for the most valuable items such as jewelry, money and documents, such as deeds or wills. Other impressive features of the interior portions of the palace are below.

The Dining Room of the Royal Family

Ceiling and Chandelier in the Great Hall

The Main Altar In the Chapel

Stained Glass Window Installed by Ferdinand II in The Main Altar

After touring the Pena Palace, we headed to ...

Cabo da Roca

Cabo da Roca is the westernmost point of all of Continental Europe and it is superb. The monument is inscribed with a poem by the famous, Portuguese poet Luis de Camões that reads,"aqui…onde a terra se acaba…e o mar começa.”

The poem translates, "here...where the land ends...and the sea begins," because he, like many, believed there was nothing but water beyond Europe's borders.

And when you reach the end of the path from the monument to the ocean, you can see why. You find yourself standing on a towering cliff almost 500 feet above the crashing waves. There is nothing but water as far as the eye can see. This dramatic landscape is awe-inspiring.

After our stop in Cabo da Roca, we headed toward Cascais, a charming, seaside village about 30 miles from Lisbon.

Praia da Rainha Beach in Cascais

Praia da Rainha translates to "Queen's Beach" in honor of Queen Amelia, Portugal's last queen. In 1889, this was chosen to be her private beach. Today, this tiny beach is filled with tourists, taking in views of the calm, blue, Cascais Bay. Located adjacent to this picturesque spot is Largo da Praia da Rainha, a terrace where you can relax and get a drink, a bite to eat and a spectacular view. Cascais is also home to great boutiques, restaurants and bars that are all walking distance from Praia da Rainha.

With that, we made our way to Lisbon along the stunning, Portuguese coastline.

Next up is my time in Lisbon.

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