The park of Pena occupies 85 hectares which includes the Palace. This palace is colourful, pink, blue, yellow, it is spectacular and is a mix mash of architecture built in the nineteenth century for King Ferdinand
. It was built over the ruins of a 16th century monastery by a German Architect Baron Von Eschwege. It was to be a summer palace that was filled by Ferdinand with all kinds of oddities from all over the world. When Portugal became a Republic in 1910 the Palace became a museum but remains just as it was left when the Royal Family lived there. It was incredible to see their china, silver, furnishings, clothing and to imagine their lives in this place so long ago. The King was an artist, and his watercolours are literally painted on the walls of the palace, while others hang in frames. His cousin, by the way, was the husband of Queen Victoria.
Down the road is the Moorish Castle, a military fort built around the 10th century by the Muslim population. It was a control tower for the Atlantic Coast, serving as an outpost for the city of Lisbon. This honestly is where you could climb to the top of the world and think you could see forever. The sea still looked flat.....
Another palace, the Palacio Nacional de Sintra. This palace is the heart of the old town of Sintra. Standing apart from all others because of a strange pair of conical chimneys that rise above the palace itself atop the kitchens, it appears plain, whitewashed, a gothic facade built in the late 1400's
. It was a summer retreat for the court and a residence for Portugese royalty in the 1880's. I loved looking through the kitchen at spits over 10 feet long, individual fire pits that housed copper pots 3 to 4 feet wide, ten in a row. Looking up at the chimney where smoke or steam probably poured out continuously I envisioned sweating cooks as meals were prepared for those in residence along with their guests. You would need five persons at least on either side of the iron skewers to lift and or turn the skewers loaded with meat. Photographs showed visitors of great importance from all over the world. I loved it.
After this we toured Monserrat. In 1856 this palace was transformed into a summer residence for the Cook family by a British Architect James T. Knowles. Built over the ruins of a neo-gothic mansion from 1790, it is colourful, pretty and light and airy. Surrounded by terraces, rolling hills, you can imagine the music spilling out of the music room and filling the air with its tune. Francis Cook was a textile millionaire, quite evident in the wallpapers that lined the rooms, all fabric. This was his summer residence. The gardens continue to win awards. They were designed by Cook and over 33 hectares contain species from all over the world.
The last couple of days have been mind boggling
. There are no words to describe what we have encountered and the amazement of our finds. Unless you purchase a book on Portugal, these places are secret. The Portuguese have kept these treasures to themselves. There are no crowds right now so we feel very privileged to be in the midst of such treasures. We also understand the keeping of these secrets, in order to keep them safe and untouched and/or delay the destruction bit by bit by constant interference of the outside world, but truly if anyone gets a chance and you are as close as Lisbon, take the Pena Tour. We are grateful.
We also are in awe of the cleanliness of these environments. There is respect for and an understanding of the need to work with nature here. In all of the restorations it is just like it was. You are not enclosed by fences, you take your chances. You are not surrounded by signs obstructing your view. What you are seeing, is how everyone has seen it since the beginning of its time. We have walked up and down more steps than I thought I ever could, we have climbed mountains by zigzagging around and around, we have spent hours, losing track of time, and every step and moment was worth it.
It it is now Thursday, March 13th. Tomorrow, Fatima.....
The afternoon flipped the coin in our experiences. We left the Atlantic and had lunch at a little village just before, but after we left the Western Point. We loved it. Our waiter Daniel loved that we were Canadian, he was interested in where we were from and while speaking very good English he taught us a lot about the food, the local area and a bit about Moonlit walks. That was after we had a Caparinah! A very quaint restaurant with absolutely our best meal yet. I had the best lamb chops, Debbie a grilled fish and the boys had a traditional fish stew, loaded, loaded, loaded with seafood. We still had the Park and Palace of Pena to visit, it would have been very easy to while away the day there.