Sintra's Pena Palace
From the 16th Century porter's lodges and tourist facilities at the bottom of the hill, the Pena National Palace shows a bubble-gum pink façade to visitors.
A path leads up the hill to the palace. (If you'd rather not climb, you can take a trolley-style bus.) Just beyond the main palace gate is a courtyard with WCs, a café, a gift shop, and a ticket office.
Within the castle grounds is yet another entrance gate. Dom Fernando II's coat of arms is carved into the archway.
Once you're inside the castle keep, you'll have several areas to visit--among them, the gateway of the Creation with its half-man, half-fish Triton figure between two mock medieval towers.
The palace's architecture is a mishmash of styles, and while it rivals Germany's Neuschwanstein for kitsch, the overall effect is far more romantic and human in scale than at Ludwig II's Bavarian fantasy castle.
The Manueline Cloisters are the oldest part of the palace, dating back to the early 1500s. The tiled walls and courtyard have strong Hispano-Arabic influences, and the adjacent Arab Hall (built in 1854) continues the Moorish theme.
Nearby, the royal chapel (a remnant of the Hieronymite monastery that preceded the palace) has German stained-glass windows that were added in the 19th Century.
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