This was definitely a cool week considering we got to see genuine castles (one with a drawbridge and everything)! I also had a week of shadowing in the endocrinology department, which was a whole lot of consultations with patients about how they’re handling their diabetes or thyroid problems.
Sintra is a municipality just outside of Lisbon that is full of castles, palaces, and national parks, and therefore is a major tourist attraction. The mix of historical buildings and beautiful mountain scenery made Sintra my favorite place that I’ve visited! The two castles that I visited were Pena Palace and the Park and Palace of Monserrate. Both were absolutely beautiful, but in different ways, as you’ll see from the pictures.
The Palace of Monserrate started when a chapel was built on the same hill that the palace now stands, dedicated to Our Lady of Monserrate. The landscape started to look the way it does now when William Beckford, in 1793 started to lay out plans for the palace and garden. Along the way there were more restorations and gardens were added until UNESCO listed the Sintra Hills as a World Heritage Site. The entire area is gorgeous, from the rose garden and reflecting ponds to the inner rooms of the palace.
Pena Palace was different from Monserrate since it was not surrounded by gardens and looks a bit like a theme park since the walls are three different colors. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, like Monserrate, and is one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. The palace began as a chapel built shortly after a sighting of the apparition of the Virgin Mary to honor her. This chapel was transformed into a monastery after King Manuel I visited and loved it. After the site was destroyed by lightning and an earthquake and only the chapel survived, it was reconstructed by King Ferdinand II. He was the perfect man for the job because he was already known to be devoted to the arts and incorporated important symbols from Portuguese history. The architecture is a mixture of 4 different styles, and the different colors of the palace are to divide it into the different historical parts. The interior was rebuilt to be the summer home of King Ferdinand II’s family and then his son’s family later.
Keep an eye out for next week for a beautiful beach and medieval castle along with one of the most famous places to eat in Lisbon!