Sintra is the most beautiful village in Portugal. Its landscape is filled with history and culture. In Ancient times, Sintra was known as Mons Lunae, the hills of the moon, because it had a strong presence of religious cults. The architecture and multitude of gardens and fountains give it a rather mystical ambiance, even today. The town is surrounded by a massive granite mountain called the Serra de Sintra. It is 10 km long and rises north of the River Tagus. It twists into the Atlantic to form the cape that marks the westernmost point of continental Europe.
The history of this city is evident in its magnificently preserved structures, traditions, and gastronomy. Sintra has a collection of monuments from over the centuries, the most fantastical being the Palacio da Pena, a quasi Bavarian/Disney looking castle. The microclimate of Sintra, sheltered between mountain and sea, is given credit for the most beautiful sunsets in Portugal. Sintra has a medieval layout with narrow winding streets, steps, and roofed passageways throughout the city. Due to its mount of preserved historic sites and its great beauty, Sintra is a UNESCO declared heritage site.
Gastronomy & Wine
Sintra like most of Northern Portugal has an extensive variety of gourmet cuisines and wines to match. There are many types of seafood from the Algarve to Minho, with Portuguese cuisine adapting to the styles of countries over the world, from Asia, Europe and the Americas (namely Brazil). Portugal’s central region is gastronomically diverse, with local delicacies such as eel stew and an array of roast meats and shellfish, alongside other world-renowned cuisine styles. Most Portuguese dishes involve fish and seafood, but liver, partridge and beef steaks also line the menus. Pastries, such as the cheesecakes, found in Sintra make up a special delicacy of the gastronomic culture of Portugal. Sintra’s cheesecake is called “Queijada” and is found in every café in town.
The wine region closest to Sintra to the northwest, in a town called Colares. Colares is known for its white wines being the only type of white wine in Portugal that can be aged for more than 2 or 3 years. Ramisco, Arinto, Dona Branca, and Malvasia are the grapes that prevail in this region’s sandy soils. They are light and fragrant with a unique flavor and gracefulness. The Colares region has gained several golden awards for its wines both nationally and internationally.
Colares is famous for its “Ramisco” vines (exclusive to the region) that are deeply planted in sandy dunes protecting them from the Atlantic winds. They produce full-bodied red wines with so much tannin they are incredibly dry to taste. Whites are generally fruity and fresh, and aromatic with age.
This 9th-century castle is set on two peaks of the Serra mountains. From the walls surrounding the castle, the incredible views of the city are not to be missed. This surrounding wall is linked by several towers. Although this is not the original construction it was restored in the Romantic period of the 1860s. This Moorish castle was conquered by Dom Alfonso Henriques in 1147, leaving traces of the Arab culture, in the cistern and Arab horseshoe arch gate.
Visit the striking UNESCO heritage town of Sintra on one of our Portugal Wine Tours. Nestled in the foothills of the Sintra Mountains, the views from here are superb and Sintra is literally brimming with palaces, historic buildings, and monuments.
This is the main tourist attraction in Sintra. It has a mesmerizing regal air created from a succession of different parts, built in different phases. It has a puzzle of different styles and mentalities that all come together to create the beauty of this palace. The two most notable styles are D. João, a 15th-century architect, and D. Manuel I. a 16th-century architect. Palacio Nacional houses one of the largest and richest sets of Mudejar azulejos ceramic tiles on the Iberian Peninsula. It gives off the air of a Moorish fairytale palace with medieval legends and royal history.
On the border of the town, lies one of the most invigorating and important creations of the Romantic Movement. It is atop the Serra mountains and was the dream of a noble artist, D. Fernando. Brilliant chalets line the foot of the mountain, as well as other small picturesque palaces, surrounded by the exotic Parque de Pena, a giant park and botanical museum with large elaborate homes and beautiful scenery.
Sintra's Historic Quarter
In this central part of the city, many interesting monuments can be found. From the Torre do Relógio (clock tower), Igreja de São Martinho (lovely church), Paço dos Ribafria, Convento da Trindade, Igreja de Santa Maria, a notable string of fountains, such as the Fonte da Pipa and the Fonte da Sabuga.