Sintra

Classified by UNESCO as World Heritage, the district that is now covered by the Borough of Sintra has been inhabited by man for a very long time indeed. The privileged geographical and environmental situation has over the ages attracted and fixed settlers. Numerous archaeological remains, including prehistoric and protohistoric tombs, testify to its antiquity.

Sintra has remained even nowadays the "noble town surrounded by many estates, pleasant woods with plentiful springs of excellent water", referred to by various old authors.

A tourist region par excellence, Sintra is one of the most delightful places to be found in Portugal. With its extensive range of green bills with its crags - the Serra de Sintra - so picturesquely situated and offering stupendous views of the coastline with its impressive beauty, Sintra is indeed "a garden of the earthly paradise".

The potentialities of the Sintra district are not confined to the wild enchantments of the Serra, sometimes wreathed in mist, and to the artistic heritage of the Old Town, described by Byron as "the most pleasing in Europe", but also include valuable archaeological remains, particularly from the Roman period, ancient manor houses, churches of personalised artistic value and characteristic villages.

Tour

National Palace

Consisting of various bodies built during the course of successive epochs on the so-called "Chão da Oliva", the Paço da Vila de Sintra is one of the most important examples of regal architecture in Portugal and for that reason is classified as a National Monument. This gradual multiplication of buildings, with different styles, is largely responsible for the enigmatic enchantment of this ancient palace, dominated by great twin chimneys atop the kitchen that constitute as authentic ex-libris of Sintra.

After the Reconquest, the Palace passed into the possession of the Crown and was considerably enlarged, not only in the reign of Dom Dinis - who in 1281 laid down that the conservation of the Palace should be entrusted to the enfranchised Moors of Colares -but especially in the reigns of Dom João I (1385-1433) and Dom Manuel (1495-1521).

Of special note, apart form the elements of Gothic, Mudejar, Manueline and Renaissance architecture, are the wonderful azulejos (coloured glazed tiles) from the 15th and 16th Centuries in various halls and patios, and in the Royal Chapel.

The Town

In the reign of Dom Dinis (1279-1325) the town was donated to the Sainted Queen Isabel. Great works took the palace in enlarging the Royal Palace and the life of Sintra was given new impulse. After the crisis of 1383-1385, the town was granted new statutes giving it autonomy and then began its golden age. At the start of the 16th Century, King Manuel ordered further amplification and decoration;this being accompanied by the literary and cultural burgeoning that was increasingly inspired by the Renaissance. According to a tradition, of which there is no proof, Luís de Camões even read the original of his epic poem The Lusiads in a wing of the Royal Palace, to King Sebastião on the eve of his ill-fated Moroccan expedition. The 16th Century was in fact, for Sintra, a flourishing period and a centre of decision -taking.

But it was above all in the 19th Century, with Romanticism, that the region was rediscovered and recovered in international terms. Romantic artists such as William Beckford (1787) and Lord Byron (1811) sang its unsurpassable beauty, engravers such as William Burnett (1830-1837) immortalised the most significant parts of the countryside, men of sensitivity like King Fernando II lent impulse to planned afforestation of the Serra de Sintra and helped the construction of sumptuous revivalist buildings such as the Palácio da Pena.

This information was taken from here.