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

Sintra National Palace or Town Palace is a former royal residence situated in a town of Sintra, Portugal. Its close proximity to Portuguese capital of Lisbon and designation as an UNESCO World Heritage Site makes it one of the most visited tourist destinations in Portugal. Most of the Sintra National Palace was constructed by Portuguese King John I who ordered construction of this magnificent private residence. The site was shosen for two reason. First of all location on top of the hill offers a great panorama of the surrounding lands and secondly it was a site of Arab Muslim residency of former owners. It was an attempt to assert Christian dominance over Muslim period in a history of the region. Sintra National Palace served as a royal residency for centuries. In 1910 Sintra National Palace was designated as a National Monument.


The history of the palace dates back to the times of the Arab conquest of the Iberian Peninsula. There were 2 castles in Sintra at that time - the fortified Castle of the Moors located on a hill and the residence of the Moorish rulers of this region located in the city. It was first mentioned in the 10th century in the writings of the Arab geographer Al-Bakr.

In the XII century, Sintra was captured by the Portuguese king Afonso I, who declared the residence his property. Currently, the castle has not preserved buildings erected during the Moors or the first Portuguese kings. His current style, combining the Moorish style, Manueline and Gothic - the result of construction in the XV and early XVI centuries.

The oldest surviving structure is the palace chapel, whose creation is attributed to the reign of King Dinis I (1261-1325).

The surviving buildings in the central courtyard area arose mostly in the reign of Juan I. Among the historically significant chambers:

Hall of Magpies - (Sala das Pegas) Magpies, painted on the ceiling and frieze, hold the por bem logo (for honor) in their beaks. The painting is related to the story that Queen Philippe of Lancaster once found her husband, King Joao I kissing a court lady. To put an end to all the gossip, the king ordered one of the rooms to be painted by magpies, 136 by the number of ladies at court;
The Swan Hall - (Sala dos Cisnes) in the Manuelino style, got its name because of the swans painted on the ceiling. The swan is a symbol of the royal house of Philip the Good, and their number (30) is equal to the age of the bride, Isabella of Portugal, to whom Philip married in 1428;
Arab Hall (Sala dos √Ārabes) (damaged during the earthquake of 1755).
The son of Juan I, Duarte I, also loved the palace very much and stayed there for a long time. A detailed written description of the palace was created in his reign, which later made it possible to accurately recreate the chronology of its construction. Duarte's successor, Afonso V, was born (1432) and died (1481) in this palace.

In 1497 - 1530, Manuel I, with the money received as a result of research expeditions during the era of great geographical discoveries, organized the further expansion of the palace. During this period, a Renaissance wing was built, decorated with polychrome Seville tiles. In the coat of arms were 72 emblems of the king and the aristocratic families of Portugal. After the disclosure of the plot of the Tavor family against King Jose I, their coat of arms was removed from the hall.