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Visiting the Sintra National Palace in Portugal

By alison - June 6, 2012 (Updated: March 9, 2015)

This entry is part 7 of 24 in the series Portugal & Andalusia 2012.
Blason's Hall, Sintra National Palace, Portugal

The incredible coat of arms ceiling of the Blason’s Hall, Sintra National Palace, Portugal

With its brightly painted tile walls and elaborate mural ceilings, the Sintra National Palace, is well worth exploring on a day-trip from Lisbon, Portugal.

One of the most fascinating and beautiful places we visited on our recent trip to Portugal and Spain, was the town of Sintra, not far from the capitol, Lisbon.

Sintra, nestled in the mountains, was a playground for the rich and famous of Portugal from the 15th to the 19th centuries. The wealthy tried to outdo each other with their elaborate estates, castles and gardens. Many of them are now restored and open to the public.

Sintra was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995 and is a Mecca for day-trippers from Lisbon. Tour buses chug up the narrow mountain roads and visitors parade through the town.

We decided to spend the night in Sintra and see what the fuss was about. During our stay, we visited 3 palaces: the Sintra National Palace, the Pena National Palace, and the  Monserrate Estate. Today we’ll explore the first of these incredible buildings, the Sintra National Palace.

The Sintra National Palace

The facade of The Sintra National Palace with the 33 metre chimneys visible in the back.

The Sintra National Palace is located in the town centre.  Although there is evidence a palace existed on the site in the 10th century, the current Sintra National Palace is a mixture of Gothic, Manueline and Moorish styles from the 15th and early 16th centuries.  The stark white palace is less ornate than many of the other palaces and estates nearby and is dominated by two enormous chimneys rising 33 metres over the kitchen.

The design and decoration of the palace’s interior was sponsored by King Manuel I with wealth acquired during the Age of the Discoveries. He ordered unique hand-crafted tiles from Seville to decorate the walls of most of the rooms and had many of the ceilings painted with elaborate frescoes.

The Sintra National Palace

Clockwise from the top: Tiled walls in one of the many bedrooms; the Magpie ceiling; The Galleon Room; The Magpie Room; The patio and chimneys; The kitchen

The most elaborate and breath-taking room in the Sintra National Place is the Sala dos Brasões, the coats of arms room or Blazons Hall. This room is decorated in striking blue and white tiles, or Portuguese Azulejos , depicting hunting scenes. The domed ceiling is decorated with the coats of arms of 72 Portuguese royal families.

Sala dos Brasões or Blasons Hall

The incredible ceiling and tiles of the Sala dos Brasões or Blasons Hall

Other impressive rooms include the Magpies Hall, the Swans Hall, the Arab Room and the Palatine Chapel. It’s hard to walk around the Sintra National Palace without getting a crick in your neck from staring at the incredible ceilings.

Sintra National Palace Chapel and rooms

Clockwise from top: The exterior; The Swan Room; The chapel; A touch of Asia; Manueline Hall; Door in the Arab Room

Outside the main entrance of the palace, you can see the colourful houses of the town of Sintra, presided over by the ruin of the Castelo dos Mouros, or Castle of the Moors, on the mountaintop above.

View of Sintra from the National Palace

View of Sintra and the Castle of the Moors, from the National Palace

Stay tuned as we explore two more beautiful palaces of Sintra, Portugal in upcoming posts.

Palácio Nacional de Sintra
Largo Rainha Dona Amélia
2710-616 Sintra

Love castles, palaces, and ruins like in this article? Us too! Don’t miss the full listing of Castles we’ve visited in Europe and beyond.

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Alison

Alison

Big Cheese at CheeseWeb
Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of Cheeseweb.eu. She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She is currently slow travelling through Europe in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
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7 comments

  1. Comment by Jesse

    Jesse June 7, 2012 at 10:09

    It’s very common to think that National Palace but those artworks are indeed a national treasure that should be displayed in for National guests to admire.

  2. Comment by Rumy

    Rumy June 11, 2012 at 12:12

    Great article! I visited Sintra in Feb 2011. It was such a magical place. Highly recommended to all people visiting Lisbon. The trip with the train is short and very comfortable and a day in Sintra is going to be a memorable experience.

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison June 11, 2012 at 12:16

      Thanks Rumy! We totally agree!

  3. Comment by Wandergirl

    Wandergirl June 11, 2012 at 16:07

    Love Sintra! Despite reading all the reviews of it being magical and fantastic, I was still surprised at how much I loved Sintra!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison June 11, 2012 at 16:54

      It’s true that so many places don’t live up to the hype or the high expectations we set for them. But I felt Sintra was pretty special.

  4. Comment by Janice

    Janice August 1, 2012 at 22:37

    I visited Sintra Palace in April 2008. I loved the Palace and the whole community. We were on a 2 week tour starting In Madeira for 5 0r 6 days and then flying to Lisbon and travel by bus from Lisbon south and on to the Costa Del Sol in Spain. I celebrated my 70 b-day in Nazare and spent the last few days in Malaga Spain of which we have been to before.
    I love the history of all these countries and the people! I found Sintra a very romantic community!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison August 2, 2012 at 09:50

      Sounds like a fabulous trip Janice! We loved exploring the area as well and hope to go back again soon!

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