Sintra can be easily reached from Lisbon via train. If you ever find yourself in Lisbon, I recommend making a day trip here. There are many wonderful sights to be seen and you get a good work out walking up and down the steps and narrow streets. We managed to enjoy two sights in particular – the Castello dos Mouros (Moorish Castle) and the Palacio de PenaThe castle originated in the 9th century? and was a strategic location on the approach to Lisbon. The views of the surrounding countryside are breathtaking. It’s fun to be able to clamber over the battlements.
Less than a kilometer away is the Palacio de Pena, a 19th century romantic castle built by the royal family on the site of a former monastery.
The palace is relatively small, but elaborately decorated in the style that was fashionable at the time. Some years back, we visited the contemporaneous the “mad King Ludwig’s” castle in Bavaria. Both of these kind of look like the sort of fairytale castles that Walt Disney would have used in his movies. The Palacio de Pena also has extensive gardens including many unusual trees that were imported from places as diverse as the USA, China, and New Zealand.
From Sintra we drove past the tower of Belem on the riverbank of Lisbon. This was an iconic symbol of Lisbon and told the Age of Explorer sailors that they had arrived home.
We found a parking spot closer to the center of the city, and walked for a couple of hours through some of Lisbon’s neighborhoods.
Lisbon is another city build on a hill, so the various districts change a lot in elevation. Not surprisingly, the castle is up pretty high.
Although they have a modern bus, tram, and metro system, Lisben still has a fleet of functioning trams rattling around the city.
Braving rush hour traffic, we crossed a massive iron bridge over the Tagus river and headed for Evora – another town, like Lisbon, with Roman origins.
The Temple of Diana is considered the best preserved Roman ruin in Portugal and it is nicely lit up at night.
Evora is a walled city, and the area within the walls is quite large. It took us about 15 minutes to walk from our hotel at the wall to the center of town. The wall it self is a mixture of Moorish and Christian styles, something we expect to see a lot of on the next part of the trip as we head for southern Spain.