08 May 2009

Portugal - Sintra - Pena National Palace

We heard from a friend in Vienna that we should visit the town of Sintra. After reading about it, we found out there were some castles there and decided to go visit. We jumped on the train, and after only a couple of misdirections, we arrived in Sintra...

The palace's history started in the Middle Ages and in 1500s a monastery was built there. In the 18th century the monastery was severely damaged by lightning and then an earthquake that destroyed most of Lisbon. Prince Ferdinand rebuilt the monastery several years later into the present palace as a summer home for royalty.

Does this remind anyone else of a miniature golf course? Unfortunately, I forgot my putter at home.

Elora was so excited to see the castle. We had an audio guide to listen to, and she was fascinated to listen to everything about the castle and asked lots of questions about each room. If Chris tried to walk into a room without playing the guide right away, Elora would say, "Stop, stop! We need to listen!" It was interesting to see the inside, because some of the rooms were just converted from the original monestary and were more simple and small in construction - then we moved into the newer portions of the castle where the rooms were much larger and more grand.

There were beautiful views from the castle, which is high up on a beautiful forested hill. You can also see the ruins of an old Moorish castle on the hill below. We hiked there next...

There was a nice courtyard surrounded by columns and arches where we got to enjoy the view and let Elora run around everywhere.

These are the stairs that lead to the old chapel which was the only undamaged structure still left from the monastery. Unfortunately, you were not allowed to take pictures inside... (and there were people watching Chris with the camera)

What is with the weird mutant merman-fish-tree-troll?

Oliver scarfing down a pear... he loves it when you just give him a whole piece of fruit to knaw on instead of cutting it up.

There were entire walls covered with painted "3d" tiles. Elora liked this particular pattern. "Did his sword break? Did he fall down? Is he a bad knight?"

Oliver was so happy to get out of the stroller and walk around. He was pretty mad when I wouldn't let him crawl around inside of the palace... I figured he would be a little rough on the furniture.

Elora had to go inside every single guard tower surrounding the palace... "Is this where the soldiers would stand? Did they live here? Did they look out at the people"

After the tour we got some ice cream. Oliver decided that he needed to have some of mine, and wow did he enjoy it.

After he was done licking the wooden stick from the ice cream bar, Oliver decided to shove it in my mouth so I could enjoy one last taste of ice cream. Yum. What a sweet boy, he loves to share with his mom.

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