UNESCO SitesWestern Europe Summer 2011

Photos from Lisbon, Portugal (UNESCO sites 13 & 14)

Our time in Lisbon (just over a week and a half ago) was spent making friends, exploring the surroundings of Lisbon, and hanging out on the beach. It was a nice start to the wind down of our time in Spain and Portugal and was highlighted by some sightseeing to two different UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The first of these sites were two different historical buildings, the Tower of Belem, and the Monastery of the Hieronymites. Both show exemplary architecture (especially the monastery) and mark the rich artistic and explorative history of Portugal.

Tower of BelemThe Tower of Belem

Monastery of the HieronymitesInside the Monastery of the Hieronymites.

The second of the two UNESCO sites we visited was “The Cultural Landscape of Sintra.” Now, I know we’ve posted a lot of UNESCO posts from Spain and Portugal, but the reality is, we were not traveling to see these, they just always ended up being around. In fact, if you look at the route we took, we probably skipped past 15 or 20 that we could have easily made it to. Sintra was one of the ones I had planned to skip. I mean, look at the name of this site… “The Cultural Landscape of Sintra?” What in the world does that mean? Luckily lots of people told us we couldn’t miss it and had to go. So we did, and it ended up being a highlight of our stay in Lisbon.

Sintra really is a cultural landscape. Upon exiting the train we headed to the tourism office to grab a map. There we found out that Sintra was home to not one, not two, but THREE palaces. Oh yea, and a castle as well. Entry fee and transportation to all four of them were a bit out of the question but we found great views of all four of them and visited one of them. Below is a shot of each of the palaces and the castle, set in a truly stunning landscape.

Regaleira Palace and GardensThe Regaleira Palace and Gardens was an absolutely gorgeous palace (inside and out) surrounding by an even more stunning garden. We chose to explore this palace and spent hours roaming through the endless garden and the dark tunnels that are built on the property. We didn’t even make it all the way through the property but had a great day exploring.

Moorish CastleThe Moorish Castle overlooked the city of Sintra and apparently provides a view all the way to the sea. By the time we left Regaleira though it was late in the day and storm clouds were coming in fast so we decided not to make the bus trip up.

Pena National PalaceThe Pena National Palace is the biggest draw in the area, but with that comes a hefty price tag. It would have cost us about $35 to $40 U.S. just to get in the place, and about $10 to $15 more to get there. We opted for a great view of the palace instead.

Sintra National PalaceThe Sintra National Palaca was the least intriguing of them all, and we actually nicknamed it the “ugly one” as it wasn’t much to look at. Presently it serves as a musuem, and with similar entry fee to the castle and Regaleira we decided to skip it on this trip.

Our time in the Regaleira Palace and Gardens provided all of these photos above except the last one, but we also got great views of the town of Sintra itself, and the countryside below.

A View of SintraA view of Sintra from Regaleira Palace.

Portuguese CountrysideA view of the Portuguese countryside from Regaleira Palace.

The reality is that Lisbon brings a lot to the table as far as places to visit. And even though I’m only going to make this one post about it, it was easily one of the highlights of our time in Spain and Portugal. With a thriving city, lots of interesting towns to explore, and a bustling beach nearby, we highly recommend stopping if you’ve got the time.

16 comments
  1. Michael Figueiredo

    I was in Sintra a year ago and don’t remember the Pena Palace being that expensive. How strange….maybe they jacked up the prices because of the economy? Great round-up though. Sintra is gorgeous!

    1. Matt

      Yea it was 12 euro. So two people, 24. Then the exchange rate of 1.45…. Plus the 5 euro bus for each person… It just added up quick so we opted not to go.

  2. ayngelina

    So strange but Sintra keeps coming up lately, it must mean I have to go to Portugal!

    1. Matt

      Honestly we liked Portugal maybe the most of the few countries we’ve visited. It really is an amazing place.

  3. Ruth

    Amazing Pictures!! I really, really want to go to Portugal. Thanks for transporting me there for some minutes.

    1. Matt

      My pleasure! Definitely make sure you visit one day, it is beautiful.

  4. Cam

    Looks amazing! We’ve been seriously thinking about another trip to Europe next summer, with Portugal, Spain and southern France leading the charge – this post only adds fuel to the fire 😉

    1. Matt

      Based off of what we just did, I’d say you would be VERY happy with that route. Not sure how much you have time for but Lisbon, Porto, and then northern Spain (San Sebastian is a huge recommendation) right up into France would be amazing.

  5. Jeremy Branham

    Lisbon is one of my favorite cities. I didn’t get to see much of Belem because I was sick but loved the rest of the city. Can’t wait to go back and visit!

    1. Matt

      Yea when you go back, make sure to visit the pastry place in Belem. Absolutely amazing! Crowded too, but worth it.

  6. Mark Wiens

    Some amazing architecture and I love the top of the hill castles. Too bad it’s so expensive to visit Pena National Palace, but the view from the ground looks pretty good too!

    1. Matt

      Yea, honestly, we weren’t too upset about it. We heard the view from Pena wasn’t as good as from the Moorish castle, and then we ended up getting an awesome view from the gardens (even though they said we wouldn’t be able to).

  7. Jim

    As Michael said, Sintra is gorgeous. Sadly we didn’t spend enough time there. But reading this brought it alive again. Thanks Matt.
    BTW that inside cathedral shot is excellent. Often hard to get that sort of definition as interior light often is so poor. Good one.

    1. Matt

      Thanks a lot! Add in 100 people and it gets even more difficult… Especially with the kiddies running around, haha.

  8. The Travel Chica

    That monastery is incredible! My cousins went to Portugal for their honeymoon and also said it was really beautiful. Hope to go someday and see for myself.

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