Royal Romanticism

The Portuguese royals liked to spend summer at the coast. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, Sintra attracted summer visitors and it is here that King Consort Ferdinand Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, built the Palacio da Pena. “Like his cousin of Prince Albert…he loved art, nature and the new inventions of the time.” (DK Guide.)

Baron Von Eschwege was the architect appointed and many Portuguese craftsmen were employed to create this romantic fantasy palace where royals and invited guests could enjoy the theme park atmosphere.

More symbols than you’d ever want to behold in one glance were used to decorate this entrance and this window:

Each room was themed with elaborate plaster work, trompe-l’oeil and even Ferdinand’s own paintings.

Somehow, hordes of tourists are attracted to this spectacle.

Even the views have a touch of romanticism for the royal 19th century visitors who relished the tales of King Arthur – and don’t we feel their appeal too?

Ferdinand liked to collect stained glass.

The kitchen is refreshingly simple:

Perhaps the best part is the park around the palace. Originally, the landscape was bare, rocky hills, but Ferdinand imported plants from all around the world, including ferns from NZ and eucalyptus from Australia.

Here, some rocks push defiantly through the imported lushness.

No wonder the royals and their aristocratic guests liked to go to nearby Cascais for a breath of fresh seaside air.

In Cascais is a statue of the last Portuguese king, Carlos I.

For visitors today there’s a touch or two of the opulent past.

And there’s a sailing club. I spotted a Hobie Cat and a Laser among these Picos.

For those with their feet on the ground, seeking an enlightened path:

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