Sintra, Cascais | Portugal
We begin our day boarding the bus and heading into the quaint little town, Sintra. Sintra is a beautiful Portuguese town with enchanting palaces, historical sites, cobblestone streets and old world charm. Sintra is known for its 19th-century Romantic architectural monuments, and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and tourist center.
Our first stop is a short stroll through the town and then we take an upward climb on the cobblestone road to the Quinta da Regaleira Palace. The 20th-century palace is a Gothic architectural masterpiece that served as the private residence to many owners.
Quinta da Regaleira is one of the principal tourist attractions of Sintra. A romantic palace and chapel, with a gorgeous park with lakes, grottoes, wells, benches, fountains, and a vast array of beautiful sites to visit. The palace is also known as “The Palace of Monteiro the Millionaire,” which is the nickname of its former owner, António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro.
Monteiro was eager to build a Palace where he could collect symbols that reflected his interests and ideologies. Luigi Manini, an Italian architect, assisted him in recreating this 10-acre property. He added buildings that allegedly held symbols related to alchemy, Masonry, the Knights Templar, and the Rosicrucians. The Manini designed Roman, Gothic, Renaissance, and Manueline styles. The construction began in 1904 and completed around 1910. In 1997 the estate was purchased by the Sintra Town Council and opened to the public in June 1998 and started hosting cultural events.
One of the fascinating sites on the property is the well. The well is stunning, and you can climb down its interior steps into the bottom and explore the caves where the water once may have traveled. It is a child’s wonderland.
Following the tour is free time to explore the town of Sintra and get some lunch. The locals are very used to the tourists, and most speak English.
Next, we head to the Convent of the Friars Minor Capuchin, popularly known as the Convent of the Capuchos and, officially the Convent of the Holy Cross of the Sintra Mountains which is an old convent on a large property. Here you can visit the monks quarters with rooms the size of a toddler’s room. One of the monks lived over 90 years and near his tomb is a plaque explaining his ministry to teaching: “spiritual exercises and mental meditation.” Later the area became a community of reclusive clergy that continued to occupy the small cramped humble spaces in the complex until the abolishment of religious orders in Portugal.
For our last stop of the day, we stop off at Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point in mainland Europe. This is a windy cape with cliffs and a charming 18th-century lighthouse with a breathtaking view. What a way to end the day.
Love and Light, Julie
Touring Photos by David Sand
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