An enigmatic paradise can be found just 20 minutes away from Lisbon, in a village that inspired the best Portuguese authors - Sintra. A visitor soon realizes its potential and the reason why it inspired so many artists in the past and continues to do so nowadays, as the village breathes romanticism in every little narrow street and across its historical buildings.
Sintra’s National Palace is the first must see of this tour, as well as the first monument that one sees when arriving the center of the village. It served as a residence for several kings, thus results in an interesting mix of styles that reflect the influence of those who lived there. This palace, from the 14th century, is known for the two conical chimneys of the kitchen with 33m in height which are one of Sintra’s symbols. Right across the palace one can find the historical center of the village with its narrow streets and traditional pastries where we’ll be able to taste the classic travesseiros (pastries with a special filling) and queijadas (small cheese tarts) de Sintra.
Also mandatory is to visit the place which was named by the locals as Bolo da Noiva (bride’s cake), due to its unreal splendor of the 19th century - Quinta da Regaleira. When entering, one feels as if diving into a parallel reality, full of mysticism and symbolism. It’s possible to experience a unique atmosphere, to vanish into the artificial caves, to visit mysterious subterranean routes and to walk amongst sculptures, lakes and viewpoints. A millionaire known as Monteiro dos Milhões, requested the construction of Quinta da Regaleira and the Italian architect Luigi Manini was in charge of decorating the palace, chapel and towers that compose the 4 hectares of this enchanting place built in a predominantly Manueline style.
Before taking a lunch break, it’s also possible to visit another monument that marks the landscape of Sintra, classified as cultural heritage for humanity. The remarkable Palácio da Pena was built in the 19th century as a romantic symbol of the village, and can be seen from a large distance due to the fact that it’s located at a height of 528m. Sintra is more than just mountain, monuments and green landscape. When visiting this region, it’s mandatory to head towards the place named by Luíz de Camões as the location where the land ends and sea begins - Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of Europe.
Going from Sintra to Cascais, we’ll pass by the symbolic beach of Guincho, a reference for those who practice water sports such as windsurf. Further south there lies the famous Boca do Inferno (hell’s mouth), qualified as such due to the steep cliff and the impactful noise of the waves against the rocks. Thereafter, one quickly reaches the Cascais marina, one of the charmest in Europe, as well as the city center which has also a notorious romantic influence. Cascais’ historic city center consists of an interesting mix of restaurants and local shops, with sophisticated fashion stores and international pubs that serve the significant international community settled here.
Heading towards Lisbon along the coastline one passes by a building that was, for years, considered the largest game room in Europe - Casino Estoril. This municipality is also known as the stage for quite a number of sporting events in the world, such as the Estoril Open (tenis) or the many motor competitions that take place in the Estoril Racetrack.
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