A Wonderful Journey Through Mystical, Must-See Sintra

Wesley G
by Wesley Glass

April 04, 2018

3 minute read

As a Tour Manager, guests will often ask us "Do you get tired of seeing the same things over and over again?" I have to tell you that the majority of the time, just like our guests, Tour Managers are amazed at the natural and created beauty that we are lucky to have the opportunity to experience multiple times in our lives. One of those places for me is the mountain town of Sintra in Portugal.

On our tours visiting Portugal, I would rank this as my must see attraction to the point where I would recommend extending your days in Lisbon to be able to give it the time it deserves. The first time I took a trip to Sintra, I was enchanted within an instant. Its unique location close to the ocean and in the mountains creates a cooler climate than the surrounding area, with mist swirling through the streets and beautiful palaces that rise like spirits that call back to a bygone era of extravagant wealth and nobility.

Plenty of history

I was astonished that such a small city could fit centuries worth of history in it. Just from standing in the main square, I could see the 14th century Royal Palace with its iconic conical chimneys looking down on me menacingly from the top of the hill. It was the remnant of the Castle of the Moors. A short walk away takes you to the expansive 20th century home and grounds of Quinta da Regaleira.

Shopping and eating

Even if you do not step inside a single palace, Sintra's tiny pedestrian streets and alleyways curve in and out of each other in a way that would make you think you have entered a labyrinth of artisan stores. They sell unique cork products and amazing pastries unique to the city such as queijadas (miniature cheesecakes), and travesseiros (pillows of puff pastry filled with almond cream).

Taking in the views

Sintra will not only fill your stomach but also your eyes. It can be overwhelming not knowing where to look both inside and outside. Though requiring a lot of steps throughout the tour, the Royal Palace is a must see. While wandering through the extravagant rooms of this architectural wonder that blends Gothic, Moorish, and Manueline architecture.

When there, you feel like you are back in the 14th and 15th centuries as painted ceilings and murals tell you the stories of the people that lived and visited there. Don't forget the Room of the Magpies, in which Dom João I had the birds painted onto the ceiling to satirize the gossiping women of the court whispered about his inappropriate relationship with a lady-in-waiting.

If you only come to Portugal once, make sure that your visit includes the journey into the mystical mountains of Sintra. Your camera, sense of adventure, and stomach will not be disappointed. I know the sense of awe I experience there will never go away. The next time you ask a Tour Manager if they get tired of seeing something, know that like the delicious confections of Sintra, sometimes experiencing something once is nowhere near enough.

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