This UNESCO heritage listed site is sbout 30 km from Lisbon easily reached by suburban train and well worth the visit. It is imperative that one arrives by public transport as yet again motor vehicles and lumbering gigantic tourist buses cause catastrophic gridlock and by walking everywhere one can easily beat the bus to any destination! However as for all Portuguese UNESCO sites it involves climbing. My iPhone motion sensor informs me I have climbed the equivalent of 137 storeys and at this point walked about 24km.
There are three significant sites/places of interest: a Moorish castle, the oldest structure built around the 10 century by the Moors. It is reached by a long climb (obviously) through lush vegetation and through an outer wall.
I needed to Goggle “moors”: The Moors were Muslim inhabitants of the Maghreb, the Iberian Peninsula, Sicily, and Malta during the Middle Ages. The Moors were initially of Berber and Arab descent.
The second is the park and Palace of Pena. It was built on an adjacent mountain opposite the moorish castle , by King Ferdinand II in the 1830s. Predictably there was originally a monastery on the mount. It belonged to the Hieronymite monks! What on earth this means I have no idea! If nuns can be “decalced” and perambulate bare footed, then heaven only knows what deprivation an Hieronymite monk must have faced? The tourist pamphlet states that “the palace and its surrounding gardens are the finest examples of nineteenth century Portuguese Romanticism”. It is quite something to behold. The one drawback was that touring the Royal Apartments involved 45 minutes of crushing frotteurism which sent my anxiety levels through the roof.
The third place of interest was the National Palace of Sintra! By this time I had had my fill of Byzantine architecture, ceramic tiles and exquisite glassware . There was another long queue buying tickets, (possible second dose of frotteurism) then the sky became leaden and after a terrifying thunderbolt, the rain pelted down to be followed after an apparent lull by a totally unexpected hailstorm! I rushed undercover and perchance it was a Portuguese bakery specialising in tarts! I made a Captain’s call and entered.