A masterpiece of Romanticism, the nineteenth century Pena National Palace tops a hill in Sintra, Portugal.
Legend has it that while hunting at the top of the mountain, King Manuel I saw Vasco da Gama’s fleet enter the River Tagus on return from his pioneering sea voyage to India.
On that very same spot where a chapel stood, the king decided to build a convent in recognition of the great navigator’s outstanding achievement.
It was over the remains of this sixteenth century convent that, three centuries later, Prince Consort Fernando of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha created one of the most striking Romantic fantasies of the nineteenth century.
Construction of the new palace started in 1840 and the king consort would spend his whole life realizing his dream castle.
It was finally completed in 1885, the year he died at the age of 69.
Built by German architect Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Schewge, the palace exhibits a blend of Neo-Gothic, Neo-Islamic, Neo-Renaissance and Neo-Manueline architectural styles.
Despite the hodgepodge of revival styles, the palace looks surprisingly harmonious.
The use of yellow, purple and pink pastel colors completes the fairy-tale character of the palace.
The exterior is festooned with allegorical carvings, references to Biblical stories and religious icons, as well as lavishly painted Portuguese tiles.
The interior of Pena features ornate stuccos, multi-patterned columns, Moorish-arched ceilings, and much of the original monastery’s chapel.
It has painted walls in trompe-l’oeil and various revetments in tile from the 19th century, forming part of the numerous royal collections.
Many of the rooms were designed to reflect a certain cultural influence ranging from Middle Eastern to baroque European.
The palace in its present day form was commissioned by Ferdinand August Franz Anton from Austria , who married into the Portuguese royal family and became King Ferdinand II.
In 1889 it was purchased by the Portuguese State, and after the Republican Revolution of 1910 it was classified as a national monument and transformed into a museum.
When the royal family fled Portugal during the Revolution of 1910, the palace and its grounds were abandoned and fell into disrepair.
But the site was restored later in the 20th century.
Many of the state rooms have been restored to how they were in 1910 and many of the original fittings still remain.
The Pena Park is a vast forested area completely surrounding the Pena Palace, spreading for over 200 hectares of uneven terrain.
The Pena Palace is a wonderful flamboyant palace and possibly one of the best tourist attractions in the Lisbon region.
The palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. It might reminds you of the famous Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria.
It might reminds you of the famous Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria.
Palacio Pena translated into English means the Feather Place.
The Pena National Palace is sometimes used for state occasions by the President of the Portuguese Republic and other government officials.