Wednesday, February 9, 2011
I wasn't sure what I was going to think about Palácio Pena with its bright, candy-colored walls visible from Castelo dos Mouros. I really dig the wild organicness of the the rocky castle perched amongst the boulders, so the pink and yellow palace from afar made me wonder, but I decided to withhold judgment until we visited. Pena is a Middle Ages chapel dedicated to Our Lady Pena, turned monastery in the 1500's, turned royal summer palace in 1840, keeping this identity until 1918 when the royal family fled in fear for their lives a year after the king was assassinated and Antonio Salazar came to power. Because the royal family fled in such a hurry they left all of their amazing, royal stuff behind and it was immediately turned into a museum and left as it was. After hiking up to the palace, we entered the impressive, ornate walls. In the last palace we visited, the rooms were bare except for, perhaps, a few era-appropriate antiquities. Inside Pena, it was fascinating to see the rooms full, exquisitely decorated with all of the necessities of daily royal life. Intricately carved furniture, silver hand mirrors, sumptuous linens, dressers and desks inlaid with beautiful designs of mother-of-pearl, a palm frond the queen had worn to palm Sunday service in the headboard of her bed. I can't fathom people really living so extravagantly. After touring the inside where photography is forbidden, we turned our sights to the extensive grounds. We took paths through the woods to the top of a hill where a stone statue soldier overlooks the palace. Up another hilltop we climbed to a spiraled, white cross with breathtaking views towards the ocean with Pena at our backs. Descending down the hill, we followed the winding path through the queen's garden inhabited by exotic plants, past the Moorish castle, back through the winding streets of Sintra, and home again. Turns out I like hiking to candy-colored palaces.
Click aqui for photos.