Sintra – Near Lisbon

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Another day trip from Lisbon is the town of Sintra.  I believe the whole town is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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According to Wikipedia, Sintra National Palace is the best preserved medieval Royal Palace in Portugal.  The earliest surviving part of the palace is the Royal Chapel, possibly built in the early 14th century.  Much of the palace dates from the early 15th century.  Additions were made over the years and it was restored in the 1940s.

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3164 C Sawn Room 

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         3178 C Stag Room

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                 3188 C Tiled Fountain Room

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The Pena National Palace stands on the top of a hill above Sintra.  This was my favorite.  It looks like it should be in a fairy tale. 

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It started as a chapel.  Then a monastery was built in 1493 but it was destroyed in the Lisbon earthquake in 1755.

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It stood in ruins until 1838 when it was acquired by King Ferdinand II.  He built the palace between 1842 and 1854.  In 1910 it was transformed into a museum.  Over time the colors of the façade faded to gray but the palace has been repainted and the original colors restored.

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  3222 C Palacio de Pena, Lisbon Cat There was a sweet palace cat too.


Castelo dos Mouros, Castle of the Moors, was built in the 8th to 9th century.   We enjoyed climbing all around these ruins.

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I think this was the ruins of the Chapel of São Pedro de Penaferrim.

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Old cisterns

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Not sure what room this used to be but there’s a sofa carved out of stone.

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3231 C2 Castle Cat  A“purrfect” day in Sintra!

Posted in Lisbon, Portugal, Sintra | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Belem – Near Lisbon

A great side trip from Lisbon is the town of Belem, just down the river.

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The Monument to the Discoveries was built in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator.  Henry is at the “prow” holding a caravel, an early Portuguese ship.  Other figures, representing great people from Portugal’s sea exploration history, line each side.

DSC06795 C2  This view from our cruise ship gives you an idea of the size of the monument. (almost 200 feet high)

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On this side just to the right of Henry is Vasco da Gama.  He discovered a sea route to India.  Third down from Vasco is Ferdinand Magellan, the first to circumnavigate the globe (with the circle in his hand).

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In the square next to the monument is a world map made of different kinds of marble.  It shows the many routes taken by Portuguese explorers.

This is Will pointing out where Seattle is.

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The Belem tower, a UNESCO Heritage Site nearby, was built in the early 16th century to be part of a defense system at the mouth of the Targus river.   Originally it stood on a little island and was surrounded by water.  Over time development extended the shoreline and the tower became integrated into the riverbank.

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The Monastery of Jeronimos, across from the Monument to the Discoveries, is another UNESCO Heritage Site.  It was originally built by Henry the Navigator in the mid 15th century to support pilgrims who travelled in the region.  The chapel was in disrepair when Vasco da Gama spent the night here before sailing for the Orient in 1497.  Construction of the monastery was begun in 1501 and took 100 years to build.  The religious orders were dissolved in 1833 and the building was unoccupied for a time.  Now a national monument, it houses religious art and artifacts and serves as an exposition center. 

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This is the tomb of Vasco da Gama.  On our India trip we saw where he was originally buried in Kochi.

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The cloisters are decorated with beautiful carvings.

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Belem is a lovely place to spend a day, especially when the weather is nice.  Henry the Navigator looks great under a blue sky! 

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