The castle itself looks like something where I'd imagined a Snow White had lived :-D
I'd say its better to visit the Palace in the afternoon, cos we found ourselves in the middle of a "tourist jam". Was really very annoying waiting 10 mins before entering in each of the rooms in the Palace. The kitchen!
You have to see that!
NATIONAL PALACE - MAGPIE ROOM
The MAGPIE ROOM or Sala das Pegas, named this as Magpies (Pegas) are painted on the ceiling. The birds have the words "por bem" (for honour) coming out of their beaks.
The sign for the Magpie Room reads:
"The only room to have retained its original name since the 15th century. Dexcribed by King Duarte as the Chamber of State, it was here that notables were received."
There is also a story behind the painted magpies. This relates to the story that King John I was caught in the act of kissing a lady-in-waiting by his Queen Philippa of Lancaster. To put a stop to all the gossip, he had the room decorated with as many magpies as were women at the court.
The Artist King
When you begin your tour through the rooms, the first thing you see is King Ferdinand's statue, who was known in Portugal as Dom Fernando II, the artist king. Like is cousin Albert, who married the English Queen Victoria, he loved art, nature and the new inventions. He was also a watercolour painter. In 1869, 16 years after the death of the Queen Maria II, Ferdinand married his mistress, the opera singer Countess Edla. His lifelong dream of building the Palace of Pena was completed in 1885, the year he died.
Just up the hill from the National Palace, on Praca da Republica, is the TURISMO or Tourist Information Office. It was a spacious room in the building, with a large information desk, brochures neatly displayed, a great sitting area with a very comfy couch.
The woman at the desk was very friendly and very helpful with my questions.
Another nice thing about the Turismo, was that it had toilet facilities.
Paint or Tiles?
While sitting enjoying our lunch under the trees in the heart of Sintra, I glanced sideways and was immediately intrigued by this scene. The peeling paint was interesting in itself, with its shadows, but the blue tiled building behind was very hard to ignore!
The practise of using decorative building tiles dates back over 1000 years in Portugal - a carry-over from the hundreds of years of Moorish occupation. I found that I really enjoyed seeing buildings enhanced in this way as we travelled around the various parts of the country. This building was a bit unusual with its fully tiled walls instead of just some decorative sections.
From a purely practical point of view, if I was a home handyman, I think I would vote for those maintenance-free tiles over the paint!