SINTRA! capital of Romanticism! within the pine-covered hills near the region of Lisbon, resides a beating heart of Portugal and Europe in whole! It’s a place where you can learn just by seeing, and even more if you ask!
For an Architect, it’s a great place to enrich the visual architectural library and get to remarkably witness the evolution of architecture through history in Europe and the different influences that compile it.
So, here is a count of 15 places an architect must visit in the whimsical city of Sintra:
1. Pena palace
It’s one of the 19th century finest examples of Romanticism, but it also comprises an eclectic mix of different styles and influences of architecture (Moorish, medieval, neo-Classique…), that blends in beautifully, thus marks the peak of the hill it’s established on.
In addition to its richly decorated interiors and life full colours, the palace is complemented by a 2000 hectare splendid garden “ Pena Parque”.
The Pena parc or garden is a large forested area; completely surrounding the palace, that contains astonishing flora from around the world. it’s almost as exuberant as the palace itself!
The Parque is crossed through winding paths and divided into several gardens and landscapes containing different natural and built elements such as lakes, ponds, fountains and small seemingly floating buildings.
2. Quinta da Regaleira
Built-in the Neo-Manueline style, the 4 hectares estate is a substantiation of great architectural work and yet the mystic vision of its former owner the millionaire António Carvalho Monteiro with its lakes caves and enigmatic buildings.
The Regaleira palace comprises elements of gothic and Manueline architecture; joined by an eminent octagonal tower. The chapel stands in the front of the main façade. It is extravagantly decorated with frescoes, and stuccoes, representing biblical scenes.
The initiation well is a helicoidal in-ground staircase and gallery, connected to the underground tunnel system. It is believed to be used for ceremonial functions—showcasing not only engineering geniality but also spiritual depth and allegories.
3. Monserrate Palace
The whole structure is impressively ornate; from the seemingly magical interior to the façade and beyond to the exotic Botanics surrounding it.
The Islamic architecture influence is apparent (Arcs, domes and organic embellishment) Along with Italian, Gothic and neoclassical elements the eclecticism of Romanesque Architecture, popular at the time is quite unmissable.
4. Sintra National Palace
The palace is one of the oldest buildings in the centre of Sintra, as it dates back to the Moorish reign era. It stands out from afar by its two distinctive chimneys conic in shape.
From rooms covered In blue Azulejo (Zelidj) to Manueline windows and painted ceilings. Throughout time, the palace was shaped by different styles and influenced by different artistic trends on the authority of its occupiers.
5. Sintra town hall
Keeping the heritage of fairytale architecture, Camara Municipal de Sintra was built in 1910 in Manueline Portuguese style.
It catches the eyes from a distance with its clock tower and spires ornamented with coloured ceramic tiles. and when approached it doesn’t fail to impress. Looking more like a castle than a town hall, one has to envy its workers for the royal experience it supplies.
6. Castle of the moors
Crowning the peak of Serra de Sintra, the Moorish castle was built back in the 10th century by The Moors for the fortification of the area.
With its granite blocks walls following the shape of the slope it was built on, it’s a great example of a successful in-site integration
7. Seteais Palace
Following the neoclassical style, the Seteais Palace was built in the 18th century for the dutch council. Later on, it was extended by the 5th Marquis of Marialva, and the large triumphal arch was added, joining both wings of the palace together.
Interiors are ornate with stunning paintings of exotic plants and mythological creatures attributed to the French painter Jean Baptiste Pillement. Though now, it is converted into a hotel it is still accessible to visitors to admire the view and the architectural finesse.
8. Chalet da Condessa d’Edla
The chalet was conceived following the alpine style, by the amorous couple King Ferdinand II and the opera singer Elise Hensler, and like everything made with love; It’s a work of art. Along with the surrounding exotic gardens, the landscape reflects the couple’s interest in art and displays a mystic romantic sensitivity.
The interior and exterior of the chalet are unparalleled. Though the exterior is covered in plain wooden slabs, the interiors are generously decorated with mural paintings, coloured ceramic tiles, and great stucco work.
9. Vila Sassetti
The propriety had known several owners. The first proprietor of the estate was Victor Carlos Sassetti, a successful hotelier from Sintra; with the help of his friend the architect Luingin Manini the summer residence and surrounding garden were set.
The Italian Lombardy castles inspire the villa, and it conveys the sensibility of Mediterranean aesthetics with its peculiar circular tower and granite walls; all laying in perfect harmony with the landscape enveloping it.
10. Church São Pedro de Sintra
The façade and prompt tower indicate “Baroque”. It’s Sinatra’s first parish Church.
This medieval mother church consists of a single nave and a major 16th-century dome; its interior walls are covered in beautiful blue and white tiles telling the life of St. Pedro.
This Medieval mother chur
Like aged wine and by preserving its age-honoured characteristics, it’s ecclesiastical charm is enchanting.
11. Santuário da Peninha
Sitting on the peak of a mountain and with the yellow colour of The Romantique revivalists houses of the Romeiros, The sanctuary is quite unmissable. Apart from the great view that the dramatic location offers, but also it is of great historical and spiritual value.
The site was a pilgrimage destination for Catholics, and it’s by the devotion of the worshipers that the sanctuary was established. Within the plain stone walls of the chapel lay an explicit example of the Portuguese Baroque architecture. The walls are covered in blue and white Azulon, narrating the life of the Virgin Mary and Jesus’s childhood, and the altar is decorated with fine Florentine mosaic.
12. Igreja de são Martinho “St Martin Church
Originally built in Romano-gothic style, unfortunately, the Sao Martinho church didn’t survive the great earthquake thus, it was rebuilt and only a few elements remained of the original gothic structure. The modest interior of the church is noted by the magnificent golden, and Baroque altar, and the different murals that date back from the 16th century.
13. Convento de Capuchos
This monument contrasts with the other exuberant buildings elsewhere in Sintra. As with its raw granite boulders and the parasitical vegetation colonising its faces, the convent melts and merges in the immediate surrounding environment rather than dominating it.
And it’s all purposeful!
The convent is meant to be a “divine construction”, a one that assures the establishment of a refined connection with divine power by opting for a life shorn of luxury. It is how belief translates into architecture.
14. Azenhas do mar
The differentiation in volumes, site contour and natural colours palette … a directory of splendour.
This village provides a concrete lesson on the proper site integration and site optimisation. With its organic, seemingly hazardous, yet organized urban plan; this village reshapes and reinforces the maritime façade of the village and Sintra.
15. Queluz Palace
It’s a fine example of the Rococo style in the capital of romanticism, along with reflections of neo-baroque and neoclassical due to the succession of the three royal generations thus, the evolution of tastes and trends over time.
From its exuberant exterior to the neatly yet generously garnished interiors, all the way to its Scenic french gardens with the fountains and rococo status; The Quluz palace never fails to inspire and amaze.
The architecture creolisation in Sintra is to be admired, as it fairly demonstrates bits of history, styles and eras. All in one template coexisting and telling the city’s narrative. Proving once more that architecture is a reliable historian, and a great storyteller.