Pena National Palace (Palácio Nacional da Pena)

Pena National Palace


Location: Estrada da Pena, 5 km (3 mi) South of Sintra  Map

Constructed: 1842–1854

Tel. 219 105 340

Open: Jul- mid- Sep: 10am- 6pm Tue- Sun

mid- Sep- June: 10am- 4:30pm Tue- Sun

Closed: 1 Jan, Easter, 1 May, 29 Jun, 25 Dec


Description of Pena National Park

The Pena National Palace, popularly referred to as Pena Palace or Pena Castle, is located in the village of Sintra, parish of Sintra (Santa Maria and São Miguel, São Martinho and São Pedro de Penaferrim), municipality of Sintra, in the Lisbon district in Portugal.

It represents one of the main expressions of architectural Romanticism of the 19th century in the world, constituting the first palace in this style in Europe, built about 30 years before Neuschwanstein Castle, in Bavaria.

On July 7, 2007 it was elected as one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.

The palace is open for tourist visits, in 2013 it had 755,735 visitors, making it the most visited monumental palace in the country that year.

Pena Palace has been classified as a National Monument since 1910 and was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.


The occupation of the steep top of the Sintra mountain range, where the current palace is located, took place with the construction of a small chapel under the invocation of Nossa Senhora da Pena, during the reign of João II of Portugal.

In the 16th century, Manuel I of Portugal, in fulfillment of a promise, ordered its reconstruction from scratch. He donated it to the Order of Saint Jerome, determining the construction of a wooden convent, and replacing it, a little later, with a stone building, with accommodation for 18 monks.

In the 18th century, a lightning strike destroyed part of the tower, chapel and sacristy, damage that was aggravated as a result of the 1755 earthquake, which left the convent in ruins. Only the area of ​​the high altar, in the chapel, with an altarpiece in marble and alabaster attributed to Nicholas de Chanterenne, remained intact.

Ferdinand II's Reformation
In the 19th century, the landscape of the Sintra mountains and the ruins of the old convent amazed King-Consort Fernando II of Portugal. In 1838 he decided to acquire the old convent, the surrounding fence, the Moorish Castle and surrounding farms and woods.

Regarding the area of ​​the former convent, he promoted several restoration works, with the aim of making the building his future summer residence. The new project was commissioned to the German mineralogist Baron von Eschwege, an amateur architect. A well-traveled man, Eschwege, who was born in Hessen, should have known, at least in the form of a project, the works that Frederick William IV of Prussia had undertaken with Schinkel's competition in the Rhine Castles, having gone on a study trip to Berlin, England and France, Algeria and Spain (Cordoba, Seville and Granada).

In Sintra, the work proceeded quickly and the work would be almost completed in 1847, according to the German's project, but with decisive interventions in terms of the decorative and symbolic details of the king-consort. Many of the details, in the constructive and decorative plans, were due to the romantic temperament of the monarch himself who, along with pointed arches, medieval suggestion towers and elements of Arab inspiration, designed and reproduced, on the north facade of the Palace, an imitation of the Chapter of the Convent of Christ in Tomar.

After Fernando's death, the palace was left to his second wife, Elisa Hendler, Countess of Edla, which at the time generated great public controversy, as the historic building was already considered a monument. D. Fernando's widow then sought to reach an agreement with the Portuguese State and received a purchase proposal from Luís I of Portugal, in 1889, on behalf of the State, which she accepted, thus reserving for herself only the Chalé da Condessa. , where he continued to reside.

With this acquisition, the Palace became part of the Portuguese national heritage, becoming part of the Crown's heritage.

During the reign of Carlos I of Portugal, the Royal Family frequently occupied the palace, becoming the favorite residence of Queen D. Amélia, who took care of the decoration of the intimate apartments. Here, lunch was served to the entourage of Edward VII of the United Kingdom, during his official visit to the country, in 1903.

After the regicide, Queen Amélia retreated further to the Pena Palace, surrounded by friends and her pet dogs. Here she was often visited by her son, Manuel II of Portugal, who had his rooms reserved there. When the revolt of the 4th of October broke out in 1910, D. Amélia waited in Pena for the situation to evolve, arriving with her entourage to go up to the terraces to observe signs of the fighting in Lisbon. The next day, she left to meet D. Manuel, in Mafra, returning that same afternoon to the Pena Palace, where she spent the night from the 4th to the 5th of October, the last night she spent in Portugal before the fall of the Monarchy. The following day, with the triumph of the Republic known, she left again for Mafra, to meet her son and mother-in-law, from where they would all go into exile.

With the establishment of the Portuguese Republic, the palace was converted into a museum, with the official designation of Palácio Nacional da Pena. In 1945, Queen Amélia, visiting Portugal, returned to Pena Palace, where she asked to be alone for a few minutes: it was her favorite palace.



Almost the entire Palace is built on huge rocks, and the mix of styles it displays (Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, Neo-Islamic, Neo-Renaissance, with other artistic suggestions such as the Indian) is truly intentional, insofar as the romantic mentality of the 19th century XIX devoted an unusual fascination to exoticism.

Structurally, the Pena Palace is divided into four main areas:
The cuirass and surrounding walls (which served to consolidate the construction site), with two doors, one of which has a drawbridge;
The body, fully restored, of the old Convent, slightly angled, at the top of the hill, completely crenellated and with the Clock Tower;
The Pátio dos Arcos opposite the chapel, with its wall of Moorish arches;
The palatial area itself with its large cylindrical bastion, with an interior decorated in a cathedral style, according to current precepts and motivating important decorative interventions in terms of furniture and ornamentation in general.

During construction, although the basic structure was maintained, changes were made to almost all the spans, at the same time that the small cylindrical tower that was next to the larger one was moved to the rear of the building. The arch of the body, flanked by two towers, received a profuse decoration in relief to imitate corals.

Above it, a window, the "bow window", received at its base, also in relief, a figure of a hybrid being, half-fish, half-man, emerging from a shell with his head covered by hair that becomes a vine trunk whose branches are supported by the enigmatic character, purposely recalling the bearded man from the window of the choir room of the Convent of Christ in Tomar, transformed here into a monstrous being of an almost demonic character. This set, known as the "Portico do Tritão", was designed by D. Fernando himself, who designed it as an "Allegorical Portico of the Creation of the World", and seems to condense, in symbolic terms, the "theory of the four elements". Reinforcing this relationship with Tomar, the window on the opposite side of this body copies with some freedom the famous Manueline span by Diogo de Arruda, "flattening it". Nicolau Pires went to Tomar to design it for the prince, who reformulated the set.

The set of different guardhouses, the unevenness of the successive terraces, the wall covering with neo-Spanish-Arab tiles, from the 19th century, are significant elements. The adaptation of the window of the Convent of Christ, on the Pátio dos Arcos side and the remarkable figure of the Triton, symbolizing, according to some authors, the allegory of the Creation of the World, are fundamental details in the interpretation of this Palace.

The building's plan is quite irregular and is conditioned by a pre-existing construction – the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Pena – and also by the topography. The result is a roughly quadrangular nucleus, organized around a cloister and an elongated one.

The facades are divided by openings or twisted and fenestrated, more or less regularly, and by quadrangular, rectangular and full-arch spans. The towers and bastions have upper rings on top of cachorrada or arcatura, forming walkways, viewpoints or terraces. The square towers have circular watchtowers with conical roofs at the corners.

The main façade is covered with polychrome patterned tiles and has a balcony on the third floor. In the quadrangular core, there are several interrupted arcades on a wall. A U-shaped staircase leads to the cloister, with two floors, with an arcade of full arches on the first and lowered on the second. Around these are some of the main rooms.

In the north wing is the chapel, lined with standard tiles, with the nave separated from the chancel by a rosewood web. The park's design was influenced by Germany's Romantic Gardens.

All the towers (except the one of the Clock) received cupolas. The inspirational motifs were essentially drawn from Moorish and Spanish Mudejar sources and from almost all Manueline works in Greater Extremadura, among which are: the Belém Tower (justifying the guardhouses with gabled domes and the rows of battlements), the Jerónimos (the spans, the ornamentation of braided ropes and friezes), the Convent of Christ (the "bow window", the almost caricatured expression itself) and the Palácio da Vila (the friezes of Gothic reliefs on the cornices, and the very organic realization of the complex). The roses with inscribed crosses demonstrate the secret genealogy of the prince, which must mythically go back to the Rosicrucian Fraternity of the 17th century, of which the prince was grand master and, even later, to the Order of Christ, heir to the Templars in Portugal.

The design of the interiors of this Palace to adapt to the royal family's summer residence valued the stucco works, mural paintings in "trompe-l'oeil" and various tile coverings from the 19th century, integrating the numerous royal collections in environments where the taste by bric-a-brac and collecting are quite evident.



Sala dos Veados, large and cylindrical, with a large column as an axis, currently displays the exhibition "Stained Glass and Glass: a taste of D. Fernando II";
Saxe Room, where Saxe porcelain predominates;
Noble Hall, where stucco, chandeliers, furniture and pieces of stained glass vary from the 14th to the 19th century, and where Masonic and Rosicrucian elements are mixed;
Cabinet of King D. Carlos, former Chapter Room of the Jerónimo Monastery and Tea Room in the time of D. Fernando II, was adapted to an office by King D. Carlos. At the end of the 1970s, canvases representing Nymphs and Satyrs were placed in Parque da Pena, by King Carlos;
Terraço da Rainha, from where you can better observe the architecture of the Palace, the Sundial with a cannon that fired at noon
Manueline cloister, original part of the former 16th century monastery covered with Spanish-Arabic tiles (c.1520)
Chapel, original part of the former monastery of the Jerónimos friars
Rooms of D. Manuel II, where the large 16th century oak bas-relief can be identified, by an unknown author, illustrating the Taking of Arzila, acquired by D. Fernando in Rome;
Sala de Fumo, also known as Sala Indiana, features valuable works of art, such as the neo-Rococo glass chandelier (19th century) and the low-relief "Cólera Morbus", by Vítor Bastos. The name of Sala Indiana derives from its decoration, composed of teak furniture, of Indian manufacture placed here on the initiative of the Architect Raul Lino, in 1940;
The Visitor's Room, formerly known as the Arab Room, features a decoration dating from 1854 by Paulo Pizzi. The painting in this room represents an Islamic architecture under a vegetal vault. The perspective creates the illusion of a wider space beyond the confines of the room.
Passage Rooms with Wenceslau Cifka porcelain, belonging to the collections of King Fernando II.


Cottage of the Countess of Edla

The chalet was built between 1864 and 1869, by Fernando II and his second wife, Elise Hensler, Countess of Edla, in an area of ​​eight hectares west of Parque da Pena.

Conceived as a leisure haven, it was built following the model of the Alpine Chalets, then in vogue in Europe, and taking into account the origins of the Countess herself. It is part of a garden where an area with large granite stones stands out.

After the fall of the Portuguese monarchy (1910), the complex experienced abandonment and lack of maintenance, a situation that culminated, in 1999, with an arson attack that destroyed much of the interior of the chalet. The recovery process began with the creation of the company Parques de Sintra - Monte da Lua, with a project by the architect José Maria Lobo de Carvalho, and cost 1.5 million Euros (of which 840 thousand, in 2007, from a community fund European "EEA-Grants").

In stone and lime, the exterior cladding simulates wood, a "pretending" common in the late 19th century. Two tons of virgin cork were used to rebuild the cork cladding that covers the exterior (decorative eaves, corners, door and window frames).

For the recovery of the garden, collections of camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas were used. To enhance the set of granite blocks, paths were opened and benches were installed.

Once the work of the first stage of the restoration intervention was completed, which recovered the entire facade and structure of the building, the complex was reopened to the public in May 2011.