The train ride to Sintra was dirty and loud, but after the day was over, it was worth it. The small town of Sintra is twenty miles northwest of Lisbon and is home to, in my opinion, the two most amazing castles I have ever seen. After we got off the train we headed in the general direction of the huge hills capped by the magnificent castles. The first and highest perched one; the Palacio Pena, was originally a monastery, but later it was turned into a palace for the royal family. When first viewed from the outside, it looks like a disney castle, but inside, the rooms are themed much like any other Portuguese palace. The second historical monument; the Moors Castle, is a watch tower built in the eleventh century, and also houses ancient silos (ancient houses made simply by digging into the ground) that date back to about 3,000 B.C.E.
After the three mile road up to the Palacio Pena, our first stop, we were greeted with a palace that resembled a disney castle, with fantastic colors of red and yellow, and enormous arches with crazy looking trolls on the top. The Palacio Pena was a home to the kings and queens of Portugal from the 1830’s to 1910. Originally a monastery, when the civil war ended in in 1834, the church no longer had so much power, hence the building was vacated and was available to the royal family. Prince Ferdinand was the one who decided to build the magnificent castle.
Our next stop was the Moors Castle, an 11th century fortress made completely out of stone. We were actually able to walk everywhere on the entire fortress, even on the edge of the watchtower. The ancient silos here are much older, dating back to 3,000. These holes were homes and storage places for the prehistoric settlers.
Overall, this fantastic and historical buildings are an amazing example of the old and magnificent architecture in Europe.