Immediately identifiable by its two white cone-shaped chimneys, the spectacular Sintra National Palace is part of the UNESCO-listed cultural landscape of the town. Explore the lavish interior and learn about the palace’s fascinating history, which stretches back to Moorish times.
A Moorish palace has stood on this very spot since at least the 11th century. The site came under ownership of the Portuguese Crown in the 12th century. The palace then underwent a series of alterations and extensions under several different kings from the 13th through 15th centuries. The palace as it stands today looks much the same as it did in the mid-16th century. Explore the palace complex and try to identify the various architectural influences, which range from Moorish to Manueline.
Before entering the palace, take time to survey the white exterior, which appears to gleam in the sun. The somewhat minimalist façade contrasts with the much more colorful and ornate interior.
Venture inside for a more thorough exploration of the property. Look for the Central Patio, which features tile-covered walls, a distinctive twisted column in the center and a geometric-patterned trompe l’oeil fresco. Adjacent to this is the Water Grotto, adorned by tiles and paintings. Decorative images depict various botanical, mythological and religious scenes.
Inside, find the Magpies Room, given its name because of the birds depicted on its ceiling. King Sebastião’s Room is a bedchamber with tiled walls featuring grapevines and fleurs-de-lis. Don’t leave without seeing the Bedroom-Prison of King Afonso VI, where the ousted 17th-century king was held captive for 9 years. Note the rare Mudejar tile floor, which dates back to the 15th century, and the iron bars on the window. Other highlights of the interior include the glorious vaulted ceiling of the Coat of Arms Room and the 15th-century kitchen, home to the two iconic 108-foot-tall (33-meter) chimneys that are visible from outside.
Find Sintra National Palace in the historic heart of the Old Town. The palace is open daily. Opening hours change depending on the season. There is an entrance fee.