Once through the two small gatehouse which guard the main entrance the path leads up-hill towards the Pena Palace past Queen Amélia's Garden on the right-hand side. It's fair to say Pena Park was not only the brain child of one man, Queen Amélia II also played an important role. Where there was once an area where the palace staff had allotments Queen Amélia created a formal garden in the French style. Over the course of the 20th century the design of this garden has encountered many alterations however recent restoration work endeavours to return the garden to it's original late 19th century's layout.
Close by in the Dovecote House is home to a multimedia 3D model of the Sintra landscape. Within this interactive centre visitors can access information and activate the projection of geographic contents on the 3D model of the Cultural Landscape. A great way to familiarise yourself with the park before starting your adventure. | 10h00 to 13h00/14h00 to 17h30
After rejoining the visitor route the path splits in two at the Manège, an area of level ground which was once used as the riding school for the princes and as the palace's tennis court. The left hand path is the recommended visit route around the Pena Park whilst the right hand paths leads to the Pena Palace itself. If you take the anti-clockwise route around the Temple of the Columns (see below) you'll come across the Table of the Queen, so called because this was one of Queen Dona Amélia's favourite spots. Looming overhead standing on a rocky pedestal is the Statue of the Warrior (see below).
Past this point one encounters a cross roads, the first left path leads up a long walk to the Cruz Alta (high cross) which at the highest point of the Sintra hills rewards your aching limbs with amazing views, (more below). The other two paths will eventually lead you to the Camellia Garden, the first path takes you via a rocky outcrop and viewpoint known as Saint Catherine's Heights.
Opposite the Water Wheel which once fed the water storage tanks of the Palace of Pena is the Camellia Garden. Planted on the site of the original 16th century monastic estate in a series of terraces a collection of camellias grow, imported from the very best growers in France, Belgium, Italy and Britain, Portuguese varieties, primarily coming from Porto were added to the collection later. From October until April the park is in bloom with the Camellia flowers. Each year there are numerous competitions and exhibitions of the most beautiful. Seedlings are nurtured in the near-by Hot House whose original plumbing system is still in use.
The Queen's Fern Valley adjoining the Camellia Garden contains a collection of tree ferns which originate from Australia and New Zealand, after a period of acclimatisation in the Azores.
Downhill from the Queen's Fern Valley we come upon the Fountain of the Small Birds, an Arabesque pavilion whose spherical dome contains an Arabic inscription, (see below). Following on from the Fountain of the Small Birds the path leads us down into the Valley of the Lakes (Vale dos Lagos), five small bodies of water famed for their unusual duck houses, (see below). Close by at the gatekeepers house theres a canteen where you can get a cuppa and rest for a while. West of these lakes we encounter the Chalet of the Countess d'Edla and it's gardens.
Also known as the House of Indulgence (Casa do Regalo), this small attractive chalet was built between 1864 and 1869 for the King Ferdinand II and his second wife and opera singer Elise Hensler, the future Countess of Edla and can be found in the western end of the Pena park. The construction is deceptive, the external plaster work has been textured and painted to imitate wooden planks and give the impression of an Alpine chalet. Its interior covering two floors sees an extensive use of cork decoration, covering doors and window frames, eaves and verandas. Inside too you'll encounter many mural paintings, stucco work and glazed decorative tiles.
Since the end of the Monarchy in 1910 and subsequent decades of neglect, the building was destroyed by fire in 1999, with total collapse of roof, floors, partition walls and balcony. In 2007 plans for a major project to salvage and fully resort the chalet started with studying original building and decorating techniques and original photographs. The painstaking work began in 2010 bringing it's original beauty back to life and since 2011 it is once again open to the public.
The Countess followed the work of King Ferdinand and the Queen Amélia who continued to transform and develop the Pena Park. The surrounding gardens have been planted with imported exotic plants and trees, some from as far as Australia and New Zealand. The garden features the Countess's Fernery, the Restharrow Garden, a Pergola, lakes and the Chalet Stones, a collection of group of granite boulders.
The stunning scenery over the valley are accentuated by the views of the Moorish Castle, Pena Palace, Cruz Alta and the Atlantic Ocean in the far distance. Along side the to the gardens are the various structures which make up the Pena Farm, including the stables which also have been recently restored and now houses the horse-drawn carriages used for rides around the Pena Park. In 1993 the Chalet of the Countess of Edla and it's gardens were classified as a Property of Public Interest.
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Pena Palace is one of the most iconic buildings in Portugal. Seen on countless postcards and travel brochures,Pena Palace is truly a sight to behold up close and from afar. Everything about the palace has been designed to impress, it's location just close to the summit of the Sintra mountain overlooks the landscape below for tens of miles. It's exaggerated architecture, which influences come from medieval and Moorish styles, reflects the obsession the Romanticism movement had with pre-classicism and mysticism. Pena Palace is the brain child of Ferdinand II of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, King consort and husband of Queen Maria II.
The palace is a self-indulgent muddle of vividly painted terraces, domes, towers, decorative battlements, a drawbridge which doesn't draw and mythological statues. Pena Palace is often compared to the mock-medieval castles of Ludwig in Bavaria, albeit pre-dating the Schloss Neuschwanstein by 30 years. The palace is designed to be visible from any point in the park which surrounds it. The extensive palace grounds have been landscaped to include exotic trees and plants, mysterious follies and lakes, and mythological statues. On the 7th July 2007 it was selected as one of the seven wonders of Portugal.
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There are cafeterias at the main entrance, gatekeepers house and in the Pena Palace, which also have a restaurant offering more substantial meals.
There are toilets in the cafés and various places around the park and palace.
The are some small car parks situated close to the main entrance to Pena Park and the Chalet of the Countess d'Edla but these will get full very quickly. Unless you have mobility issues it's advised to park in the old town and take the #434 bus from there.
You can book a private tour: info@parquesdeSintra.pt | +351 219 237 300.
There's a hop-on hop-off transfer service available between with-in the Pena Park with five stops along the route including the Pena Palace and the Chalet of the Countess d'Edla. Sign language trained staff, manual wheelchairs available on reservation, traction equipment for wheelchairs, ramps are implemented difficult parts of the park and in certain rooms of the Palace and Chalet. Here too you can find adapted WCs. NOTE: The second floor of the Chalet of the Countess d'Edla is not accessible to persons with mobility restrictions.
Park, Daily: 09h30 – 20h00, (last admission 19h00)
Palace, Daily: 09h30 - 19h00, (last admission at 18h30)
Adult €7.50, Concessionary: €6.50 Family €26.00
ONLINE TICKET | With this entrance ticket you can gain entry to Pena Palace and Park at your leisure. Buy online before you arrive to avoid queues and have the convenience of the e-ticket on your phone…
There are hicking trails signposted between the historic centre and the National Palace of Pena:
• Santa Maria Trail (Centre to Moorish Castle/Pena; 1770 metres, 1 hour)
• Lapa Trail (Centre to Pena; 1450 metres, 45 minutes)
• Seteais Trail (Centre to Seteais, Pena/Moorish Castle; 2410 metres, 1½ hours)
• Vila Sassetti Trail (Centre - Pena/Moorish Castle; 1850 metrres, 45 minutes).
Take the IC19 from Lisbon, IC30 from Mafra or EN9 turning off the A5 motorway to Cascais. Once you have arrived in the town's historic centre it's best to leave the car and take the #434 bus to the Pena Park.
The Scotturb bus #434 leaves from Sintra Train station, stops in the Old Town centre next to the Tourist Office and takes you to the Pena Park.