Sintra National Palace (Palacio Nacional de Sintra)

Palacio Nacional de Sintra


Location: Largo Rainha Dona Amelia Map
Tel. 21- 910 68 40

Open: 10am- 5:30pm Thu- Tue
Closed: Jan 1, Easter, May 1, Jun 29, Dec 25


Description of Sintra National Palace

The National Palace of Sintra, also known as Palácio da Vila, is located in the parish of Sintra (Santa Maria and São Miguel, São Martinho and São Pedro de Penaferrim), in the village of Sintra, Lisbon District, in Portugal.

It was one of the Royal Palaces and today it is owned by the Portuguese State, which uses it for tourist and cultural purposes. Of urban implantation, its construction began in the 15th century, although an old construction from the Muslim era was used.

It presents characteristics of medieval, Gothic, Manueline, Renaissance and Romantic architecture. It is considered an example of organic architecture, of a set of apparently separate bodies, but which are part of a whole articulated with each other, through patios, stairs, corridors and galleries.

The Palace was used by the Portuguese Royal Family practically until the end of the Monarchy, in 1910. It was here that D. Manuel I received the news of the discovery of Brazil, it was here that D. Afonso V was born and died, it was here that D. Afonso VI, it was here that D. João II was acclaimed king.

In 2008 it was the most visited palace in Portugal with 408,712 visitors. Currently the building is managed by Parques de Sintra - Monte da Lua, as well as several other spaces and monuments in the municipality of Sintra.

The Sintra National Palace has been classified as a National Monument since 1910.



Sintra National Palace dates back to a primitive palace that was donated by King João I of Portugal to the Count of Seia, in 1383, returning to the royal possession shortly afterwards.

The palace was rebuilt in the 15th century, starting in 1489, when a campaign of works was started that aimed to lighten the mass of the construction and enrich the interior decoration, applying Andalusian tiles.

Between 1505 and 1520, the so-called Manueline wing was erected and, in 1508, the construction of the Sala dos Cobrasões began. Some compartments of the so-called Manueline wing feature limestone spans and fireplaces, characterized by relief decoration.

During the reign of King João III, the space between the Johannine and Manueline wings was built. In the 17th century, under the guidance of the Count of Soure, alteration and expansion works were carried out and, between 1683 and 1706, under the reign of D. Pedro II, the paintings on the ceilings of some compartments were renewed.

In 1755, important restoration works were carried out, following the damage caused by the Lisbon earthquake, and the wing that runs from Jardim da Preta to Pátio dos Tanquinhos was built.

A new decoration campaign was carried out in 1863.

In the last years of the monarchy, it was the summer residence of the Queen Mother D. Maria Pia, the last royal inhabitant of the Paço da Vila de Sintra. Here, several receptions were offered by the Queen Mother to statesmen who visited her son, such as Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany or the President of France, Émile Loubet, among others.

The palace has been classified as a National Monument since 1910.

Between 1904 and 1958 it was served by the Sintra tram, which had its terminal stop in the square bordering the main entrance.



With a complex floor plan, it is organized in a "V" shape and features staggered volumes, consisting mainly of cobblestones, with the roof being made up of multiple different four-sided roofs.

A characteristic feature of this palace, quickly identified by tourists, is the pair of tall conical chimneys with a height of 33 meters. The main elevation is organized into three bodies, the central one being higher and set back from the ends. There is also an arcade on the ground floor with four broken arches, topped by five mullioned windows and limestone framing. The other fronts of the building present a complex articulation of protruding and recessed bodies, highlighting the cubic volume of the Sala dos Brasões.



The internal compartments are reflected in nuclei organized around patios, namely: the Archers Room, the Moura or Arab Room, the Pegas Room, the Swans Room and the Coat of Arms Room, the Sereias Room and the Audience, the Chinese Room or the Pagode Room, the D. Sebastião Room, the D. Afonso VI Prison Room and the Kitchen.

The Coat of Arms Room displays the arms of 72 Portuguese noble families and the eight children that D. Manuel I had when it was built between 1516 and 1520.

The Swan Room takes its name from the fact that the ceiling is completely decorated with 27 paintings of these animals. The reason begins with a legend that suggested that the Duke of Burgundy had offered a couple of swans to the Infanta D. Isabel. Now, the swan was the emblem of Henry IV of England, brother of Philippa of Lancaster, uncle of the Infanta. And it was also a symbol of eternal fidelity common in the novels of the time, in which knights sailed across rivers in a barge pulled by a swan to save the ladies.

The Sala das Pegas was where D. Sebastião heard Luíz Vaz de Camões reading “Os Lusíadas”. This is where the legend that Almeida Garrett tells in “O Romanceiro”, a work from 1843, resides. “It is said that D. João I was caught one day kissing the most beautiful maiden of the Court of Sintra from her name Dona Mécia. And he was caught by D. Filipa de Lencastre, an English queen and addicted to the moral order”. The king, when caught, said: “It was a kiss for good. She is very beautiful and I wanted to kiss her, nothing more.” The queen accepted the king's apology, but behind the door were other maidens and they went to speak ill of the king's kiss. “The king, when he heard, did not like it. And to punish them, he had 136 magpies painted on the ceiling of this room, supposedly the number of court maidens that existed in Sintra at the time. Handles are notorious for making noise. And as they made a noise saying for evil, he puts in his mouth a sentence saying: 'For good'. But, as he was being accused of infidelity, on the handle that corresponds to the queen he placed a rose - symbol of the house of Lancaster - and the phrase: 'To whom I am faithful and clinging, to my wife and to no other'".

Moura Room or Arab Room, it is probably the bedroom of D. João I. The current decoration is from the Manueline period, integrating tiles with a geometric composition with a three-dimensional effect. The exoticism of the space is accentuated with the sculptural set of the central fountain, in gilded bronze.

Chinese Room or Pagoda, located in one of the oldest areas of the Palace, where the royal apartments would have been prior to the works of D. João I. It contains a monumental Pagoda from the Qing dynasty, built in China at the end of the 18th century or in the beginning of the 19th century.

D. Sebastião's room, the king used this room to sleep during his stays in Sintra. The decoration of the walls is from the 16th century, with relief tiles, topped with a border of cut tiles, with motifs of vines and cornflowers in the shape of a fleur-de-lis.

D. Afonso VI's Prison Room was where the king remained incarcerated and guarded for 9 years by order of his brother, King D. Pedro II, following his removal due to incapacity to reign, having ended up dying in this room in 1683. It is one of the oldest rooms in the Palace, the only compartment in which the window has an iron railing. Mudejar ceramic flooring probably dates back to the 15th century and is particularly rare.

The Palatine Chapel, with a rectangular floor plan and a single nave, has walls covered with ornamental paint and a wooden ceiling and ceramic floor, representing the oldest examples of Mudejar work in Portugal. Religious space from the reign of D. Dinis (beginning of the 14th century) with the invocation of the Holy Spirit (the reason for the doves that carry an olive branch in their beaks) in the frescoes on the walls.

In the kitchen, you can see otogonal beginnings of the monumental and iconic chimneys. The kitchen, from the beginning of the 15th century, was built for large hunting banquets, one of the occupations of choice for the court and nobility. Inside, there are several ovens and two large ovens, in addition to a stove and a kitchen set in tinned copper, consisting of lunchboxes, fishmongers, pots, pans, casseroles and frying pans. The white tile covering the walls from the end of the 19th century is from the same period as the heraldic composition with the royal arms of Portugal and Savoy placed there in 1889, belonging to Queen Maria Pia of Savoy, the last monarch to inhabit the Palace.


Water supply

In the Palace there is the Mãe d’Água, a small reservoir that rarely lacks water and which, despite its simple size, still manages to feed the monument’s rooms, all the gardens and fountains that beautify it. The Palace is supplied by mines and springs located in the Serra de Sintra, mainly within the Parque da Pena. From there, the water travels through galleries, climbs small aqueducts, digs tunnels in the rock — always driven by gravity — and enters lead pipes until it reaches the reservoir.

It is a complex and intricate system, a work of engineering that was innovative for its time, but also intriguing. It is just that even today it is still unclear exactly where the water comes from. And how far will she go? The lead pipes that the water runs through have a problem: This pipe is very fragile and is quickly crushed by tree roots. And so, over the years, the pipes were replaced by stoneware shackles. Currently, plastic pipes are used, which are more efficient, but are installed inside the original pipes to reduce the cost of rehabilitation and not to compromise the integrity of the system.