A Romantic jewel in the mountain
Sintra became one the most visited cities in Portugal because of its beauty, enchanting both Portuguese and foreign writers. British poet Lord Byron lived here in 1809 in Lawrence’s Hotel (that still exists nowadays) granting this town international fame, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Sintra has very special characteristics, such as houses with gardens, small palaces and small-scaled buildings. Ancient houses are placed throughout Medieval style streets, as for instance between the Palace, Volta do Duce and Neo-Manueline Town Hall building. In the middle of all this, larger constructions emerge, the most imposing of them being Palácio da Vila, the Town Palace, easily noticeable from afar because of its huge chimneys. According to Portuguese writer Eça de Queiroz, “(these chimneys) are colossal, irregularly shaped, as if the whole residence would be nothing but a big kitchen, built to suit the gluttony of a king that every day eats up his entire kingdom”. At the top of the mountain, there are two monuments, deeply related to the image of Sintra, rebuilt Mouros Castle and Pena Palace, a true 19th century Romantic palace with plenty of colour and exuberant décor. Sintra mountain is per se a natural monument full of dense woods, lagoons, granitic rocks, and sombre ferns, duly classified as Nature Park. There are several outstanding monuments in Colares direction, such as Quinta da Regaleira, another exuberantly decorated revival palace, Hotel Palácio de Seteais, Monserrate Park and several noble quintas, as for instante Quinta da Capela or Quinta do Carmo. The train connects Sintra to Lisbon and another rail transport – the rural tram – which is a true historical precious jewel, makes a real time journey, driving down along the town to Colares flood plain and Praia das Maçãs beach.