The National Palace of Sintra is also known as Palácio da Vila (Town Palace) and was one of the Portuguese royal palaces. It is located in the center of the town. Building started in the 15th century, but the author of its design is unknown.
It is the best preserved medieval royal residence in Portugal. It was inhabited more or less continuously from the early 15th century to the late 19th century.
Today, it is a huge tourist attraction. Sintra is often visited as a day trip from Lisbon, but it is recommended to spend more than one day if you want to fully discover this beautiful region.
The Palácio da Vila is situated in the heart of Sintra. This is the place that king Alfonso VI (the 1650s) was imprisoned during his later life, as he was deemed, by his own brother, to unstable to rule the country properly.
The exterior is dominated by the two huge chimneys that rise out from the kitchens while the interior is filled with decoratively painted rooms that reflect the extensive history of the palace itself. There is a path weaving its way through the palace that visitors should follow.
National Palace of Pena Rooms
One room after another treats you with amazing furniture, paintings, frescos, themed ceiling paintings and impressive tile panel works.
Probably the most famous of these rooms is the magpie room, which has paintings of magpies representing the gossiping and scheming of the queen’s ladies-in-waiting. This relates to the story that King John I (1385 – 1433) was caught in the act of kissing a lady-in-waiting by his queen Philipa of Lancaster. To put a stop to all the gossip, he had the room decorated with as many magpies as there were women at the court.
Inside the National Palace of Pena, there is also The Swan Room (Sala dos Cisnes) which is done in the Manueline style (Portuguese late Gothic style) and named so because of the 27 painted gold-collared swans on the ceiling.
There is also the mermaid room, with mermaids on the ceiling as well.
Also, there is the Galleon Room with ships painted on the barrel ceiling. This room features furniture and artifacts from the Palace’s history.
Coat-of-Arms room has a beautiful vault ceiling filled with different Coat-of-Arms motives. This room was built by King Manuel I (1425 – 1521) and dates back to the early 1500s. Additionally, it is considered one of the most important heraldic rooms in Europe.
There is also the Gold Chamber. It has an original king-size bed which was made for an actual king (King Sebastian)! The walls are decorated with the 16th-century vine leafs.
Cool Room (Casa de fresco) is filled with colored stucco ceiling decorations, attributed to the workshop of Giovanni Grossi.
The King João’s bedroom is known as The Arab Room. This room is placed the furthest away from the Swan Room for privacy. There is also a statue called Baller in the center of his room.