Pena Palace, a King’s dream
Pena Palace is an impressive example of the Romantic architectonic style, rivaling in beauty with the famous Bavarian Neuschwanstein castle
Pena Palace, standing out of the green landscape of Serra de Sintra due to its colorful walls, is one of the most impressive examples of the Romantic architectonic style of the world of the XIX century, preceding the famous Bavarian Neuschwanstein castle in about 30 years.
Considered one of the Portuguese 7 Wonders and classified as a World Heritage Site by Unesco, was born out of the dream of Don Fernando (1816-1885), the husband of Queen Mary II. In fact, Don Fernando felt in love with Sintra and, to be more precise, for the ruins of the Hieronymites convent devoted to Our Lady of Pena, which existed on the exact same place Pena Palace was to be built, as well as for the amazing surroundings. Therefore he purchased the ruins along with Moors’ Castle (Castelo dos Mouros) and the neighboring lands, aiming to transform the convent into a palace.
Eschewege, a German amateur architect, was in charge of the project that depicted the romantic soul of the sovereign and was inspired by fascinating pastiche of the Bavarian palaces. The monument comprises Moorish, Gothic, Manueline motifs and other exotic traces, namely Indian and Chinese, as well as some influences of the Wagnerian spirit of Central Europe Schinkel Castles. To mix things even more, the Manueline cloister and a Renascence altar of marble and alabaster made by Nicolau Chanterene from the original monastery were kept. This Palace is a true melting pot of architectonic and decoration styles, leaving therefore visitors truly amazed, especially when they realize that almost entire building stands on rock.
Photo by To Uncertainty And Beyond
After Don Fernando’s death the palace the palace was inherited by his second wife, the opera singer Elisa Hendler, the Countess of Edla, who, after some controversial, sold the monument to King Luís I in 1889, maintaining only the possession of the Countess Chalet, a pavilion inside the Pena Park. Thus the Palace became part of the Portuguese national heritage.
Photo by moacirpdsp
The last Portuguese King Carlos I spent many time at Pena Palace with his wife Dona Amelia, who devote herself to the decoration of the Queen’s chambers and to the development of the Pena Park. After the regicide that took King’s life, Dona Amelia moved into the Palace, from where she joined her son King Manuel II at Mafra to flee to Brazil after the revolution that ended the Monarchy. Her bond with the palace was so strong that when she returned Portugal for a brief visit in 1945, she went there and asked to be alone for a while.
Photo by HDR-newaddict
Under the Republican political system, the Palace was converted into a museum and acquired today’s designation Pena National Palace (Palácio Nacional da Pena).
Over time the colors of the façades faded and for many years the Palace was thought to be grey. However by the end of the 1990’s its original red and yellow paints were restored, thus making its grandeur even more impressive. Pena Palace is indeed the major visiting card of the romantic village and a mandatory stop for all spending one day in Sintra.