With rolling hills, lush flora and fauna, and only an eighteen mile drive from Lisbon, the picturesque beachside town of Sintra has long been a vacation retreat for royalty, nobility, locals and tourists alike. Visit Sintra, Portugal and the Pena Palace on our optional land package to Lisbon on our Portugal sailings.
Love for Sintra
The love affair with Sintra started long before the English Romantic poet Lord Byron dubbed it a “Glorious Eden” in his epic poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage and “perhaps the most delightful village in all Europe.” Longer still before another English Romantic poet called it “the most blessed spot on the whole inhabitable globe,” and at least as far back as when it was under Roman rule. The enamored Romans named the town “Cynthia,” after the goddess of the moon.
In the 19th century, King consort Ferdinand II fell in love with the lands as well and helped to usher in an era of exquisite and grand parties as many others soon followed, building their own extravagant estates. Even though the royal family considered the castle more of a royal retreat, it was hard for nobility not to want their own home in paradise. After all, on a clear day the castle can be seen from Lisbon.
The Beauty of Romanticism
Built on the spot of a ruined monastery (which, according to legend, occurred after an apparition of the Virgin Mary), the King’s Castelo da Pena would become a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal and one of the most stunning examples of Romantic architectonic style. Many have called this a prototype of Germany’s Neuschwanstein castle, which in turn inspired Disney’s Cinderella’s Castle.