This morning we drove north to the village of Sintra, which is famous for the Royal Palace in the town and the Pene Palace high on the hillside.
Arriving at the Royal Palace we found that there were huge queues and we had to wait while our tour guide obtained our tickets. We decided to hop on the little Noddy Train and do the 30 minute tour of the town. It only cost 5 euro and was quite interesting.
The Town Hall, Sintra
The Royal Palace viewed from the east showing the Manueline section and the huge chimneys above the kitchens.
When we got back our tour guide was waiting with our entry tickets to the Palace but the queue was even longer. She told us not to worry. We were not in a party and could just walk to the front of the queue. Easier said than done. We got halfway but we were then stopped by one of the attendants who would not let us pass. Eventually we got in but we were sandwiched between a group of French and a group of German tourists and their guides. We had a choice, listen to the commentary in French or German. It did not matter; we could not understand either. The rooms were crowded and all you could see were the ceilings. Fortunately, these were interesting.
The Swan Room, the Sala dos Cisnes, is a huge reception room and the ceiling is decorated with swans.
We shuffled along in the crowd to the Magpie room, the Sala das Pegas. Here the ceiling is decorated with magpies each holding a banner reading “Por Bem” in their beaks.
This relates to the story of when Queen Philippa of Lancaster caught her husband, King Joao 1 kissing a lady-in-waiting. He claimed it was just an innocent kiss,” Por Bem” he said. To stop all the gossip he had the room redecorated with as many magpies as there were women in the court.
Moving slowly along we came to the Galley Room. The domed ceiling features paintings of seascapes and vessels from the late 17th and early 18th century flying the flags of the Ottoman,Dutch and Portuguese nations.
The Arab Room was probably the bedroom of King Joao 1 and features a fountain in its centre.
There were many other rooms but it was stiflingly hot inside and we were glad to get out into the fresh air.
We decided to walk down towards the station stopping to look at some of the trinkets for sale and some of the statues.
We located the bus stop where you could catch the bus up to the Pene Palace on the hilltop but once again the queues were massive. We decided to go back to the square and wait for our coach to take us back to Lisbon.
Our visit to Sintra had been interesting but a bit disorganised. On reflection we should have done our homework and then done our own thing. Perhaps going first to the Pene Palace and leaving the Royal Palace to the afternoon, maybe avoiding some of the queues. We could then have caught the train back to Lisbon.