If you are interested in the history and culture of Europe, a visit to Pena Palace is a must. Often referred to as the “Most Beautiful Palace in Portugal,” this marvelous building was constructed at the end of 19th century by King Luis I who wanted a summer residence near Lisbon. This palace offers tours of its historic rooms with wonderful views overlooking Portugal’s groves below.
The rooms and halls are magnificently decorated with centuries old tapestries, crystal chandeliers, marble statues, and other extravagant furnishings. There is a magnificent gilded throne room and dining hall complete with crystal, gold-inlaid furniture, and walls covered with Gobelin tapestries. Famous artists were commissioned to decorate the palace.
The Pena Palace gardens are well known for their gorgeous landscaping. The terraced vegetable garden has been used by the royal household since it was built in the mid-1800s. The pavilion was originally used as a dairy but now it’s the venue for music concerts. It has a stage that overlooks Portugal’s mountainous landscape below.
The gardens also include an enormous greenhouse. Built in 1882, it is Europe’s largest glass structure with over 2,000 square feet of glass. It was designed by Jože Plečnik, a Slovenian architect, who created the unique and original wall and iron work that beautifies the entire structure.
The palace was named “Pena” because its location looks like a gigantic eagle with its wings spread for flight. The palace gardens are accessible by cable car from the village below but you can also take a train or drive to the village of Sintra. There are several other spectacular buildings and monuments in this village that are worth visiting.
As you explore the Pena Palace, keep in mind Portugal’s history and cultural heritage. In 1147 King Alfonso Henriques declared Portugal an independent country. In 1249 the Portuguese king conquered the Mediterranean island of Gibraltar from Spain. During the 15th century, Prince Henry the Navigator encouraged exploration of Africa and new trade routes to India. And in 1498 explorers Pedro Álvares Cabral and Vasco da Gama sailed to India and established trade with this exotic land. The great Portuguese explorers made Portugal a very important seafaring power during their time period.
While visiting the Pena Palace, take time to enjoy the gardens and landscape. The views are breathtaking as you gaze down from this magnificent palace into Portugal’s groves below.