Sintra, Caiscais and Estoril, Portugal
“Some places speak distinctly. Certain dank gardens cry aloud for a murder; certain old houses demand to be haunted; certain coasts are set apart for shipwrecks”. ~Robert Louis Stevenson
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Sintra was the place to be for the rich, famous and royal.
There are villas, palaces and castles with a mix of very colorful architectural and decorative features.
It is about an hour out of Lisbon with a cooler mountainous climate.
Pena Palace was built by the last Portuguese Royal Family In the mid-nineteenth century.
The palace is an unusual and ornate blend of design and color.
They were not afraid to mix prints, materials or styles.
It is on the highest hill and views are spectacular.
Being from a country that does have not have royalty, (other than rock, sports and Hollywood royalty) I have used the term castle and palace interchangeably. In Sintra where they have both, I have learned that a castle is built as a defense and a palace is used more to showcase wealth. A good rule of thumb is if there is a moat it is a castle. Pena is for sure a palace.
There is nothing practical here.
You can see that National Palace with its two chimneys from almost anywhere in Sintra.
It was built as a summer residence for the Portuguese royal family who resided there from the early 15th century and was in continuous use up until the late 19th century. It now belongs to the State and it is used as a Cultural Centre where exhibitions are usually held.
Sintra’s charming historic town centre is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Every visitor should spend some time exploring the maze of cobblestone lanes lined with quaint shops and cafes.
We head to Cascais. Cascais represents the hardest part of the Portuguese language for me. It looks French but it is pronounced Cazh Cezh with a hard C. Sometimes a word looks Spanish and it means the same thing in Portuguese, but when said, it sounds Russian. (photo – Sintra Magik Tours)
Caiscais was once a sleepy fishing village and has transformed into a favorite holiday destination for Portuguese and Europeans.
It is a nice town with cobblestone streets lined with shops, bars and restaurants. It’s not just a holiday town, there’s a resident working population which generally commutes to Lisbon – half an hour or so – so it doesn’t close down as the tourist season ends. (photo-Sintra Magik Tours)
Cabo da Roca is the most westerly point on the European mainland.
It stands on a cliff and it is marked by a monument (with many people taking photos)
and a lighthouse. ( photo – Sintra Magik Tours)
Lisbon and the surrounding area was a spying hotbed during WWll because of the country’s neutrality, the city’s strategic position by the Atlantic and the presence of all sorts of displaced European royalty.
Hotel Palacio was not only Bond’s hotel in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but Lieutenant Ian Fleming himself stayed here during the Second World War.
The Allied spies based themselves at the Palacio and the bar they frequented in the hotel, and where Fleming enjoyed a martini or three, is today known as the Spies Bar. ( photo – Sintra Magik Tours)
The Casino in Estoril was the basis for Ian Fleming’s first 007 book Casino Royale.
There is no shortage of things to do in Lisbon but if you have a few days definitely get out of the city and explore the surrounding areas. I highly recommend doing it with Diogo of Sintra Magik Tours. http://sintraprivatetours.com/ He is intelligent and very knowledgeable about all of Portugal. As you can see from all the photos of me, he is also an excellent photographer. Special thanks to Sintra Magik tours for answering all my questions and for the needed photos. It was such a wonderful, special day.