Sinatra is westernmost point of Europe, not considering the islands, and the best way to get there is by train from Lisbon. Travel with the sounds of fado, Portugal’s traditional music while enjoying beautiful scenery through the window. You will pass next to the aqueduct Aguas Livres Aquaduct, which was built in the 18th century, and which is still in use. When you arrive, slowly, you will see a nearing colorful castle at the top of the hill, one of the most recognizable buildings from postcards.
When the train arrives you will witness an invasion of tourists. This town does not enchant only the tourists, who visit this place, but it fascinated the Portuguese kings, as well as numerous artists who used it as an inspiration. Lord Byron, Luís Vaz de Camões, Alfonso Lopez Vieira, Hans Christian Andersen …
Same name also goes for the mountain in which vicinity the town was built and Sintra stands for all of forested region that stretches all the way to the Atlantic coast. The original Arabic name goes back in its history when the Arabs ruled Portugal. They even build themselves a castle here in 8th century. Portuguese royal rulers could not resist the natural attributes of it either.
The royal summer residence National Palace can be your first destination. It is only ten minutes walk from the railway station, in the central part of the city. Exterior, recognizable by the two large conical chimneys is not very fascinating, but the interior very much is. These two chimneys, which are located above the kitchen, were indicators of whether the members of the royal family are in residence or not.
In the historical center of the city, there are numerous museums and churches. Toy Museum is a unique for sure. In its collection there are more than 20,000 toys from around the world and from different periods. Particularly interesting are the old stone toys from Egypt. While there, visit the church of St. Martin and Clock Tower. The church has some preserved frescoes from the 15th century.
In this neighborhood (Old Town) you can rent a carriage and see the town while comfortable riding. But, the good old “on foot” method, it is best for exploration the narrow streets. Take city’s bus to reach up to Moorish Castle and Pena Palace, way uphill, about 3-4 km.
Moorish Castle was built by Arabs in 8th century and it served for military purposes. It was surrounded by walls, in addition to being built on one of the two peaks of Mount Sintra.
However, the Portuguese managed to conquer it in 1147, led by the first Portuguese king, Alfonso Henry.
The castle was rebuilt many times, but since the 15th century it hasn’t been brought back to life, however fantastic panoramic views over the Old City, the Pena Palace, and in the distance to the Atlantic coast are why it is worth of visiting.
On top of another peak there is colorful and cheerful building emerging from the dense green forest. These are the Pena Palace and Pena Park. Pena Palace was included in the Seven Wonders of Portugal and it under the protection of UNESCO. On the site of a small chapel in the cave, monastery of the Order of Saint Jerome was built.
The monastery was destroyed by an earthquake in 1755. Ferdinand II, Prince of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and his wife Queen Maria II decided to raise summer residence on the very same spot. Outside, attention is pulls to Arab and Triton’s gates, inside lounges, dance halls, furniture, paintings, chandeliers, porcelain … There is a large chamber, in which the wings of Amelia, the last queen of Portugal are exposed.
On the other side of town there is another interesting castle. Complete opposite mystic Quinta da Regaleria. It is a palace from the early 20th century and is also under UNESCO protection. The place is little scary, from densely green color and patina to sculptures of dragons on the façade, along with the stories of alchemy, the Freemasons, mystics, underground caves, etc. The well is spiral staircase leading up to a depth of 60 m, which will take you the mysterious underground gallery, with nine plateau as nine circles of hell.
In contrast to all these palaces and gardens, walking through the narrow streets in the center of the city should be experienced as well. Old houses, flowers on the balconies, workshops, souvenir shops, small bars, restaurants … National Park of Sintra – Cascais extends to the shores of the Atlantic. Cabo da Roca, Cascais, Estoril and a large sandy beaches are some places nearby also worth visiting.