Getting closer to Lisbon already, we crossed the famous faux-Golden Gate bridge and got a glimpse of the big city on our way to Sintra, whose “cultural landscape” is on the UNESCO list, oh god, how many more still to come?
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.
There are many sights to see in Sintra and surroundings, so we had to make a careful selection. After some navig kerfuffle around town, we oriented ourselves and went first to see the famous Palacio Nacional de Sintra with two iconic cone chimneys on top.
The building itself was beautiful with exquisite interiors and tiling, but it could not be more touristy, so the crowds spoilt it for us a bit.
Our fav piece of art was the painting of Jesus in naughty nightie, but we later learned that it was actually John Baptist donning that sexy little piece.
Afterwards we decided to visit the Quinta da Regaleira, a neo-Manueline extravaganza complete with huge gardens with tunnels, caves, secret doors, waterfalls, famous inverted tower, gods, goddesses, gargoyles and beasts… so much beauty! Nearly not as many people either, it made the highlight of the day.
Late lunch of pizza in a nearby outdoor snack bar, we had enough for the day, and decided to give a miss to the other places around Sintra and just head for the coast.
Iestyn selected Praia Grande due to some more dino fossils nearby, but there was not camping around, so we drove down to Guincho instead, the famous windy beach, mecca of kitesurfers and windsurfers. We found a tiny wind-shielded cove in the rocks and watched the surfers fight those mighty waves.
Tags: Castle of the Moors, caves, Ferdinand II, Gold Chamber, Initiation Well, Lisbon, Moorish, neo-Manueline extravaganza, Palacio Nacional de Sintra, Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra, Swan Hall - Sala Grande, The Regaleira Chapel, UNESCO World Heritage site, UNESCO’s World Heritage list