Alentejo plains, ALENTEJO

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SINTRA
MONSERRATE PARK
This jewel is found on the way to Colares. It is a superb mix of building and landscape architecture. The palace looks like something out of the One Thousand and One Nights. It has a far more visible penchant for Neo-Arabian styles than the Neo-Manueline of the same epoch. The Park’s garden surrounds the building, initially a formal green which then turns into a denser, complex garden, with little streams and fountains. (10 am-5 pm; Monserrate Palace: 10 am-1 pm and 2 pm -4h30 pm. €5).
MOORS’ CASTLE
From amongst the granite beds, this castle seems to sink the teeth of its battlement into the top of the mountain. It dates back to the 8th century, and it was occupied by the first Portuguese king, in 1147, and then rebuilt by King Consort Fernando I , during whose reign the castle morphed into its present state. (10 am -5 pm. €5)
PENA NATIONAL PALACE
Fernando II, the King Consort, was a typical Romantic monarch from the 19th century, a lover of arts and poetry. He had built this place a construction whose main feature is its impressive eclecticism, in which creative freedom is paramount and is does not have any one restricting style. The whole edifice is a complex and capricious mass of minarets, towers, windows, balconies, balustrades, and walls. It is a very visible mix of styles, and is perched on one of the highest points of the range.
The succession of porticos that one must cross in order to enter the main building are masterpieces of free style. The interior of the palace is quite interesting, for each new space is unpredictable, and the quality of its furniture and workmanship is very high.
It really looks like a fairy tale castle on top of its mountain. (Winter: 10 am – 6 pm; Summer: 9.30 am – 10 pm. Admittance fees from €7, depending on circuits and ages).
QUINTA DA REGALEIRA
Built in the 19th century by an eccentric millionaire, this is a Romantic Manor House, with many extravagant and even esoteric decorations. Half hidden by the thick vegetation and lit up by the shimmering light one comes across an inverted tower, perhaps an initiatic well. A place of rare beauty and mystery. (219 106 656. Quinta da Regaleira. Winter: 10.30 am – 5 pm; Summer: 10h30 am-1 pm. €6 for self-guided tour with map; from €10 for guided tour, schedules at 10h30 am, 11 am, 12 pm, 2 pm, 2h30 pm, 3h30 pm and 4h30 pm).
SETEAIS PALACE
This is an example of Neo-Classic architecture in Portugal, with a French style façade, gardens and even a Triumphal arch. Today this is a 5 star hotel. You can have a cup of tea or a glass of wine at the hotel’s bar.
SINTRA NATIONAL PALACE
This monument, erected in the middle of the village, grew out of an old Gothic residence. In the time of king Manuel I, i.e., between 1505 and 1520, it was rebuilt into the shape it has become today, with a playfulness of the architectonic bodies on cubic masses, from which two bulky chimneys blossom, with a strong visual impact.
The Palace has clear influences from the Andalucía architecture, mainly in its decoration, whether on the exterior or the interior, although one finds also Gothic, Manueline and Arab-style notes. Many of the rooms are filled with an assortment of decorative styles. This Palace is also the owner of the largest treasure of tiles in the country.  (Largo rainha D Amélia. 10 am – 5h30 pm. Closed Wednesdays. €5. Free admittance Sundays and holidays until 2 pm).
TOY MUSEUM
Little trains, lead soldiers, dolls, toy buildings and many, many examples of toys from our grandparent’s times. This is a magical place not only for children, but everyone. It has a shop where you can buy old toys and, perhaps, complete your collection. (219 242 171. R Visconde de Monserrate. 10 am -6 pm. Closed Mondays).
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