Sintra, beautiful now, brutish then…

It’s Tuesday morning and we are in Sintra, about an hour’s drive from Lisbon.   The weather is very nice with warm days and cool nights.  We are staying at a lovely old B&B that was once owned by the government and is now private.  It’s located just outside of town and like everywhere else in this area, is on a hill, no make that the side of a mountain.

In “days of yore” this must have been a pretty rough place to live where “might was right” and the baddest guys got their way, well at least until a “badder” guy came along.   And, there is an amazing castle that overlooks the town and overlooks our inn too.  Believe it or not, this is the view from our room.  Amazing.Our room is the corner one in the tower.  No kidding.  Nice job Brenda, for finding this place.It seems that towns were generally built within a reasonable distance of the “tough guy’s” castle, where there was some level of protection from the invading guys who wanted to kill the resident tough guy and take his place.

Anyway, towns were built under the watchful eye of the castle.   This is Sintra, viewed from the castle.  In the distance you can see the Atlantic.  The view is really amazing.   I would think that you’d have several days warning if invaders were on their way. The town of Sintra has many lovely buildings.  I enjoyed watching this artist painting in a particularly picturesque spot. Actually, everything here is picturesqueEven the local spring where folks fill up water bottles is pretty. The water at our inn is from a private spring on the property and there is so much water that spigots are left running at times to bleed off the excess.  There is an old cistern that is no longer used out back and now is the home for many goldfish.   The Castelo dos Mouros was built during the 8th and 9th centuries and is quite an impressive place.  I can’t imagine how hard is must have been to lug all that stone around in a time when all you had to work with was brute strength.  It must have taken hundreds of years and many laborers to build it.  I would think that if the local “tough guy” asked for your help, well, you helped and said “how high do you want that wall”.   Yes, that’s a real castle.  Yertle the turtle would have loved it here and he would have been able to see a lot. To walk along the top of these walls would induce vertigo in all but the most bold “knights of old”.  There was a young woman who was sitting on the very top of the wall in this tower and to look at her made me weak in the knees, and not in a good way. It is truly an amazing place.

So, fast forward hundreds of years and the then king decided to build a country home on the site of a monastery that was destroyed in an earthquake.   This palace is situated on a mountain top that is EVEN HIGHER than the castle.  No self respecting king would settle for less.   And, it’s a lot more ornate than that nasty old castle.  And for almost 100 years, until it was opened to the public in 1911, it was a home away from home for various kings.  It’s currently undergoing a major restoration.   There is nothing subtle about the Palácio Nacional da Pena.The level of detail is something that only a monarch with access to the national treasury would be capable of.  To arrive through this entrance a king would know that he had indeed arrived and that yes, he also had a LOT of tile. No shortage of bright colors.  I would expect that the castle, in subtle granite tones, would have been painted like this if there had been a Home Depot nearby. I wonder if the king ever polled his subjects asking “What do you think?  Should I go for more earth tones?”Yes, tile everywhere and a really nice courtyard. Charming spot for an intimate dinner.  Perhaps we could take some cues from this for our dinners at home.  Great centerpiece.  Subtle like the rest of the place. Anyway, not a bad spot to visit.  However, it’s a really LONG WAY UP to get there and I would imagine that this was a place that the monarch would only visit for a really LONG weekend.  “Oh Jasper, could you go into town and get me some more port?”  “Yes, right away your Majesty.  I’ll be back in just two days time.”

Today, visitors take a bus and it’s still a long way up, both ways, to visit.  We were pretty pooped at the end of the day.

Yes, Sintra is indeed a lovely spot.  And, it makes me appreciate even more that I live in a softer, gentler time, when life is not so “brutish and short”, well at least not for me.  However, if I couldn’t be the “king of all that I could see”.  To be king, well that wouldn’t be very nice.  Yes, I’d like that a lot.

“Bob, Bob, snap out of it. You’re just a little guy and back then you’d have been fetching firewood for the king and if you were really lucky, port!”  

Yea, I guess…

Perhaps a drive in the car is more my speed.   Yes, I could do that… 

2 responses to “Sintra, beautiful now, brutish then…

  1. Wonderful photos….we are touring with you….

    Harvey

  2. Great pictures. Following you. Keep up your sense of humor. Maureen

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