Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sintra, Portugal

A short train ride outside of Lisbon is Sintra, a beautiful city nestled at the foot of rolling, tree-covered hills. The area, The Cultural Landscape of Sintra, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of its many sites and architectural excellence. It also features a subtropical microclimate and is extremely green and lush.

In the city itself, we visited Sintra Palace, built from 1415 onwards and continuously inhabited from the early 15th to late 19th centuries. Significant Islamic artistic influence, most notably tilework, is evident in Sintra Palace and many other buildings in Lisbon and Sintra.

The castles built on the hillsides were the real stars of the show, though. Laura and I rented electric bikes - they require peddling but a motor kicks in to make climbing steep hills easier - and headed to higher ground.

Castelo dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors)

Pena Palace

At the Monastery dos Capuchos

Monserrate Palace

The view from the hill-tops in Sintra was incredible! Sintra unexpectedly vaulted into our list of favorite places we visited in Europe; if you're ever in the area, don't overlook this gem. You can see more of our pictures from Sintra on Flickr!