Cultural Landscape of Sintra (1995)

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In the 19th century Sintra became the first centre of European Romantic architecture. Ferdinand II turned a ruined monastery into a castle where this new sensitivity was displayed in the use of Gothic, Egyptian, Moorish and Renaissance elements and in the creation of a park blending local and exotic species of trees. Other fine dwellings, built along the same lines in the surrounding serra, created a unique combination of parks and gardens which influenced the development of landscape architecture throughout Europe. 

Sintra is located about 24 km (15 mi) northwest of Lisbon, of which it is a suburb. The first known settlers were Romans, although Phoenicians may have also settled on the site. The site then fell to the Moors, who made it a royal residence. In 1147 Sintra was made part of the kingdom of Portugal. Overlooking the majestic mountain range that bears its name, and whose magnificent vegetation the British author of the romantic movement, Lord Byron, described as "Glorious Eden" in his poem "Childe Harold", Sintra with its fantastic park, its two royal palaces and its ancient Castelo dos Mouros, is one of the loveliest romantic scenes imaginable.  Sintra is something unique, incomparable, and it is impossible even to reflect a pale image if its unequalled beauty.  

Portugal 1994. Sintra. National Palace of Pena. Portugal 1972. Palacio da Vila. Sintra. Portugal 1990. Sintra. Palacio Nacional da Vila.

On the top of the Sintra mountains is the Pena Palace -- a privileged vantage point from which an impressive mountain top view can be seen, with its curious Dragon gateway, its bell towers and minarets, its domes with rounded walls, Manueline style windows with capricious Gothic towers, and a fascinating mixture of styles.  Its two conic chimneys make it recognizable from afar. 

The Royal Palace is outstanding among the monuments at Sintra, and is a building of definite artistic value. Architecturally, it comprises several styles and was the residence of the kings of Portugal from the 15th century.  Its illustrious historical past witnessed the voice of Cam÷nes reciting the verses of "Os Lusidades" to the king, as well as the laments of Afonso VI, the unfortunate monarch whose own brother shut him up in a wing of the palace after taking away his wife and his throne.  

Portugal 1997. World Cultural Heritage. National Palace of Pena, Sintra.

Portugal 1997. World Cultural Heritage. Close-up of the stamp from the souvenir sheet. National Palace of Pena, Sintra.

Also, there is a fine view from the medieval Castelo dos Mouros, with the blue sea on one side and the Convent at Mafra, one of the most majestic monuments in Portugal, on the other. 


Other World Heritage Sites in Portugal and Areas (on this website). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Portugal-section, for further information about the individual properties. 

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Revised 21 jul 2006  
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