018 - Sintra IV - Pena Palace - Portugal

After visiting Sintra the city, Regaleira Estate and the Moorish Castle, we arrive at the most easy to recognise monument in the whole of Portugal - National Palace of Pena.

Just like at the Moorish Castle, we must again ascend an almost 500m high mountain, that is a bit more far from the Train Station than our previous destinations, so pack water, a good camera, humour and lets go!

Click here to see the map

018.1 The best part of visiting the Moorish Castel and Pena National Palace, is walking in the woods, on trails that are also filled with interesting things. (is this inspired from Paris, Les Deux Plateaux - next to Louvre Palace/Museum?)

018.2 Now granted, they're a few steps here and there :)) But these I think can be avoided. Since we were tired to go round, we took the stairs (can be seen on apps like Maps.me)

018.3 We are now climbing towards Pena, but through the opening in the trees we can see the Moorish Castle walls. Soon we will be above this region (there is a picture with the view).

018.4 Buddhist theme? For someone who played Zelda games, this was such a great of a finding. I almost wish I would also find Shrines to grant me extra life. 

018.5 Fuchsia flower (just like the colour). I found these flowers next to an abandoned building (probably a stable).

018.6 And voila we are inside the park of Pena (or garden). These carriages can be found all over Sintra, as they can be rented to travel from the train station area, to the Moorish Castle or even National Palace of Pena. 

018.7 Could you guess what this is? No, it is not a painting, it is a reflection in the water (I used a wide lens).

018.8 This solitary tower  is actually a Duck House (Entrance Lake) and while there are no ducks in this shot (I had to crop to frame), the place is pretty alive (at least it was back in 2017). 

018.9 I was not a bird photographer back then, but this picture started everything. This is an Eurasian Jay and for me, then, it was the first time I saw this bird (not that popular in my home country).

018.10 The Fountain of Small Birds - this fountain was built (offered as a gift) to commemorate Vasco da Gama's discoveries (the longest naval route at the time in Europe, from Portugal to India). I wonder if there is also a cinnamon planted. 

018.11 More water ponds and Water Lily (and no water fountains... I found this, again, very disturbing considering the fee to visit these big parks in Sintra region. If I would have to really rate each location 1-5, none would be 5 because of this reason (and the lack of toilets) but since this is normal in the hot Portugal... I rated 5 anyway - "That's the way it is!").

018.12 Perhaps you are scrolling down wanting to see, faster, images of Pena Palace, but actually, for many (including myself) the biggest attraction is the garden. It is filled with tons of exotic, and European plant species, spread on vast territory, with some water ponds and stone benches to help catch a breath.

018.13 Not far!

018.14 The paths are easy to walk/climb, and in fact people of all ages go here. Some have boots, other sneakers, and quite many sandals or even beach slippers (I had sandals), so yeah... not so hard to climb. It is true that looking from the base of the mountain, it could seem difficult to reach the top, but it is not like that (perhaps in rain it could be pretty slippery). 

018.15 We did took our time before reaching the National Palace of Pena and YES it is more beautiful close and in person than from far away. (the lamps are boring no? I mean the laps of the Parisian Metro are more in tune with this place, than to Paris itself).

018.16 Hard not to try to make pictures of everything :) 

018.17 We arrived here on the 3rd of June (not that hot outside) and because it was not peek of summer vacations, there was only a fair amount of tourists. In fact I just had to wait a bit for most shots to get cleared and that was it. But it is best to visit on a rainy day (as I saw on the internet). 

018.18 One obvious thing, is that there is a huge temperature difference between the area where the Palace is versus the Garden or even the bottom of the mountain. As it can be seen, many wear long sleeves (be sure to pack something like this, it will come in handy in just a bit).

018.19 Is it me, or these look like the patented glass stairs from Apple.inc? (inside the Pena Palace)

018.20 The exterior is the most fascinating in my opinion. Such a mashing of architectural styles from oriental, romantic, gothic and specific to Portugal (and azulejos).

018.21 Inside the court of the Palace. We did not stay to visit the interior as we did not have much time left (it was already 7 PM) and the view outside was just crazy great! Now the inside is also great, but we wanted to leave it like this, so there is reason to return to this magnificent place!

018.22 Walking on the exterior path around the National Pena Palace will grant us with two things: amazing view over the Moorish Castle and super refreshing cold air! It was actually pretty cold to be honest. We did not stay much, but is great to see this view in person!

018.23 Not only that it looks like the pointed head of a ship, but from here we can feel the breeze of the Atlantic Ocean! This view is from walking the outside perimeter.

018.24 Time to leave National Palace of Pena, but not without taking another hundred looks at this beautiful place. 

018.25 Once you come here you understand why it is so iconic. And this place dates as far back as 1854! And because it sits so high above the rest in the area, it is even viewable from Lisbon (to be honest, Lisbon is not that far).

018.26 Back in the garden, on route towards the exit, we find this awesome tall sequoia tree from California USA. Cool no?

So, Pena Palace in a few words?
Magnificent, big in every way (except price, unless you forget to pack water...), great to walk towards and also great to visit every corner. Would be great one day to take the carriage but I find the poor horses to be terrorised by the ATV bikes, dirt bikes, classic 1000HP sound BMW and highly toxic buses :) Shame...

Since we did not visit the insides of the Palace, we do plan to return one day and maybe see also the Palace of Madonna (the USA queen of pop music). 

For those serious about photography:
1. pack light, there is a lot of climbing: a wide 10mm, a normal 50mm and a zoom lens, are all that one would need (can be done also with a 18-135mm). 
2. check if drones are allowed but be careful of the strong wind and the multitude of trees. But Pena Palace would be great in a drone shot from multiple angles.
3. you can walk in slippers :)) so you can record video and make photos and have feet breath!
4. be sure to have a notebook as most plants are actually followed by a little black board with the latin name, and is much more easy to remember this way. 

There are many who do rock climbing -> possible material rental!
There are also many who do horseback riding -> I did not see where to book such activity, but I saw many on horseback. 

National Palace of Pena is definitely a place to visit, sitting in the top alongside Regaleira Estate (both different, but romantic). 

As always, hope you found this article useful and hope you see more!
And if you live in Europe, you should definitely book an economic flight to Lisbon, and then take the train here! 
Source: https://www.parquesdesintra.pt/pt/parques-monumentos/parque-e-palacio-nacional-da-pena/

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