Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sintra, Portugal Tourism Enjoy Old World charm

Touted as one of the most beautiful towns in all of Europe, Sintra, Portugal has something to offer history buffs, romantics, and adventurers alike. Thanks to its interesting geographical location, tucked away in a stretch of hills surrounded by wide open plains, channels and oceans, Sintra boasts dramatic landscapes bursting with inspiration. The town itself has served for many years as a source of creative stimulation for authors and poets due to not only its geographic setting, but also its displays of ornate architecture. The windy, narrow streets straight out of medieval times lead visitors through a maze of shops, cafés, and museums. Hidden behind the many tall trees and walled gardens lie some of the most exquisite palaces, many of which serve as museums, and others that are simply open for tour.

The Palácio Nacional de Sintra is a wonderful example of Manueline and Gothic architecture, although the influence of its original Arabian constructors is still visible. This palace served for many years as the summer residence for the kings of Portugal. The Palácio De Pena is an extravagant building, with a modern sort of feel. The Seteais Palace has been converted into a luxury hotel and in the summer is home to the ballet. The Quinta Regaleira, set deep within the woods and surrounded by lush gardens is an eerie sort of place. Its many turrets, nooks and crannies, in addition to its underground grottos and dry wells help to envelope it in mystery.

High atop a high overlooking Sintra stands Castelo dos Mouros, the ruins of an ancient castle. From here, one can see clear across the city and the coastline. It also affords a view of the Cintra-Cascais Natural Park, which encompasses the mountain range of Serra de Sintra, all the way to the coast and Cabo da Roca, the most westerly point of the European mainland. Within the park one can enjoy many different historical and natural sites.

For visitors looking to enjoy a little bit of time on the sandy shores of Portugal, a number of beautiful beaches are only a short drive or tram ride away. One such beach, Praia das Macas, is a regular stop for the old-fashioned electronic tram year round. Surfers from all over come to this coastline to enjoy some of the best waves in the world, and many young ones flock to Praia Grande. Smaller, untouched beaches and private coves allow visitors to have a more secluded beach experience. These include Azenhas do Mar, Praia do Magoito, and Adraga. The atmosphere that Sintra exudes is intoxicating, and a visit there is a fantastic way to enjoy Old World charm, coupled with New World adventure and exploration.
Palacio da Pena, Sintra, Portugal
Palacio da Pena, Sintra, Portugal

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