Sintra National Palace
Sintra National Palace is the only Royal Palace of the Middle Ages remaining in Portugal and one of the few examples of the Mudejar style.
The origin of the Sintra Nacional Palace (Palácio Nacional de Sintra) or Town Palace (Palácio da Vila) was probably the residence of former Muslim rulers who inhabit the village prior to the Christian Reconquista. Formed by several wings it is the only remaining Royal Palace from the Middle Ages in Portugal.
Unfortunately remain neither traces of the Moorish occupation nor of the early years of the Christian rule. In fact, the palace as we know it dates from the times of Don João I (King John I), responsible for the recovery of the building. King Manuel I also played a key role in the palace development, by adding the Manueline Wing, that granted the monument its today’s look.
The chapel of Sintra National Palace is one of the monument’s highlights. Built under King Manuel’s orders, the chapel is one of the few examples of the Mudejar style that still exists in Portugal because of the Hispanic-Moorish glazed tiles that cover its walls.
From the architectonic interventions made during the two above-mentioned regencies I would like to emphasize the magnificence of the Arab Room and its glazed tiles of geometrical matrix as well as of the Central Patio. However, I believe that the kitchen and its double conical chimneys, 33 meters high, are the most impressive traces of the Sintra Nacional Palace from those times.
Don Manuel’s son, King John III brought Renaissance elements into the palace that can be seen at the Swan’s Room, the oldest ceremony room of the Portuguese Palaces, and at the richly decorated Coat-of-Arms room.
Photo by Lee Cannon
The 1755 Earthquake damaged severely the Sintra National Palace that was intervened several times during the 19th and 20th centuries. In June 1910 it was declared a National Monument and in 1940 it became a Museum. The monument is part of the Sintra Cultural Landscape, inscribed in the World Heritage List.
Ever since the Middle Ages that the palace was used as a Royal Residence, namely during summer, the hunting season or when Lisbon suffered the plagues. Yet, its most famous resident was probably Afonso VI (1643-1683), the mad king who lost the crown to his brother and spent the last years of his life in one of the palace’s room. According to the legend, he used to walk back and forth inside the room, treading a path in the tiled floor that still remains visible for today’s visitors.
Sintra National Palace is one of the monuments you shouldn’t miss if you are spending one day in Sintra.
Open from 9:30 to 19:00 (last entrance 18:30 for the palace and 18:45 for the gardens)
(Closed on Wednesdays, January 1st, Easter Sunday, May 1st and December 25th)
Sintra National Palace Official Site