Monday, March 2, 2009

Sintra - A Fantastic City

Sintra is one of the most beautiful towns in Europe. It belongs to Portugal and it is located close to Lisbon. It was known in ancient times as Mons Lunae (the Hills of the Moon), because of its strong traditions in astral cults. Sintra has been declared World Heritage by UNESCO due to the large amount of archaeological remains and monuments it has.

It is a very tourist town because it enjoys of a rich cultural heritage. It tourist potentialities also include the three National Palaces: Palácio da Vila and Palácio de Queluz and Palácio da Pena, in addition to the municipal museums. It also includes the quarries producing marble, winegrowing, the confectionery and gastronomy and the handicraft workshops.

Thanks to its unique combination of castles, parks and gardens, Sintra enjoys a beautiful and unusual geography. The city centre is about 15 minutes by walk from the train station. The Sintra's heart is a real gem: everything there seems as if you were in a fairy tale. There is a wonderful Toy Museum for young and old people, lots of craft shops, pastry shops and restaurants. The Jardins de Monserrate are a must. They have a huge variety of subtropical plants and exotic trees. Not to be missed are the palaces of Seteais and Monserrate and the Moorish Castle dates from the 8th century.

There are any other mandatory places to visit: the Convento dos Capuchos, : the 12th Century Igreja de Santa Maria or some several private palaces that are open to the public: the Palácio de Seteais, a magnificent 18th Century home transformed into a five star Hotel; Casa dos Ribafrias, a 16th Century building Quinta de Pena Verde, another 16th Century palace, and the Palácio de Monserrate, built in the 19th Century.

There are also many museums to visit: the Casa Museu Leal de Câmara, which shows the Palace's art works; the Museu Regional, which shows the area's history; Museu de Arte Moderna, the Casa Museu Dorita Castel Branco and the Galeria de Arte Municipal among others.

Sintra lies along a wonderful coast, so it has beautiful beaches. Do you need any other reason to go to Portugal? Take the first train to Sintra and rent Lisbon Apartment. As Robert Southey once wrote: "Sintra is the most blessed place of all the habitable world".

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