I was certainly not prepared for the mystical land of castles that awaited me in Sintra. My boyfriend had been before, and told me it was a place with beautiful castles that I must see. I thought, “doesn’t all of Europe have beautiful castles? Why are these ones such a must-see?” But, even “typical” castles in Europe are something I would never turn down a visit to, so off we went.
A 30 minute train ride through the suburbs of Lisbon, and we arrived at a quiet little train station in Sintra. It felt out of a movie – the silence and beautiful greenery all over the place felt too idyllic and staged to be real. We followed the signs and began our uphill journey – a journey I did not prepare well for, as I wore a long dress and sandals. Unbeknownst to me, we would be hiking up nearly 45 degree angle pathways for the majority of the day.
This is from what I believe is the highest point of the Moorish Castle. This castle was built in the 9th century by North African Moors, and conquered by Christian crusaders in the 12th century. It has slowly fallen apart over time, and now is just a shell of its original glory.
From within the walls of the Moorish Castle you can see the spectacular Pena Palace. Although we didn’t venture over to it this time, hopefully someday. Pena Palace was built in the 19th century, and was the place that the royals of Portugal spent their last night before the Portuguese revolution forced them to Brazil.
There are a number of other castles in Sintra that we didn’t make it to that day. Look for another post soon about the second trip to Sintra we took when my sister, Tawney, came from London to visit!