December 8, 2014
A palace, a castle and a cape near Lisbon.
Last week we had another free afternoon in Portugal. Naturally, we made the most of it.
On our way to Lisbon airport we made a quick detour off the highway to take in another two interesting Portuguese places of interest.
They’re not quite as monumental as the cliffs we saw on the southern coast of the country, but all the same they’re still worth a look. The first place, real close to Lisbon, is the town of Sintra (and its Pena Park). The other is the western-most point of Europe – Cabo da Roca – approx. 20km from Pena.
Pena Park is actually the grounds of Pena National Palace, perched high up on the top of a hill here (500 meters above sea level).There are various different touristic tidbits to check out in and around the grounds, but the main two are the palace itself plus Castelo Mouros – Castle of the Moors – another hilltop-located ancient construction (and the cooler of the two).
The Pena National Palace used to be the summer residence of the Portuguese royal family. Today, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s used for state occasions by the Portuguese government. Its current incarnation was built in the middle of the 19th century – 174 years ago, to be precise.
As you can see from the pics, a touch of the southern European ‘hot’ temperament may have been applied in coming up with such an original and colorful architectural creation. It’s a bit like being at Disneyland, only 500 meters above Lisbon. I think that should be the other way round – Disneyland is a bit like the Pena National Palace; maybe it was its inspiration?…
I’ll let the pics do the talking…
Looking at the following photo, showing a pic of King Carlos I beside his collection of 19th century state-of-the-art tech-kit, I mused that there’s nothing new about 21st century bloggers’ gadget collections. It’s all been done long before – some 150 years ago (at least). So much for novelty!
More kit: an early ancestor of the smartphone
Next up was a castle built long before the palace – the most excellent Castle of the Moors, constructed in the 8th to 9th century – before the Reconquista. It was repaired later, then rebuilt, and finally turned into the neat historical tourist attraction it is today. It’s well worth taking a stroll around it and taking in the splendid views all around.
Machu Picchu crossed my mind at this point
Yep, it’s nice here, and so I recommend it for visiting one day. If you do ever make it here in the summer season beware the parking situation. At the top of the hills on which the palace and castle are located there’s just a single-track serpentine road. Parking spaces at the top are few in number, and line the road. Conclusion: in summer you’d be better taking the bus.
We jumped back in the car and drove 20km to the west coast… to Cabo da Roca – for (yet!) more classy cliffs… The only downside here – you can’t take a good long stroll up, down and across the place – only one to two hundred meters to the right and to the left.
Come the evening, the sunset was brief and not all that stunning. We want our money back!
All the photos from Portugal are here.