Convento dos Capuchos (the Convent of the Frairs Minor Capuchin) is an old historical convent, which according to a legend is located on the exact spot where former Viceroy of India, João de Castro, once got lost in the mountains of Sintra, and received a divine message to built a Christian temple. It was founded in 1560 by eight monks from the Convent of Arrábida, and the community existed until religious orders were abolished in Portugal.
As you can see when visiting the Convento dos Capuchos, it was a very poor and primitive place. The monks had a simple way of living; hand-in-hand with nature. You are free to walk around the site, which is well hidden among trees and rocks. Have a closer look at the main complex; the cells where the monks lived (except Honório, who lived 30 years inside a small grotto!), the kitchen, the 'restroom' - and the Chapel of Senhor dos Passos, the old vegetable garden, and much more...
Officially named Mosteiro de Santa Cruz da Serra da Sintra, Capuchos Convent is a historical convent from the 16th century it embodies the ideal of fraternity and universal brotherhood inherent in the values of the Franciscan monks who lived there.
Once there you can image how life was there. It's a very green an unique spot.
This is truly an amazing palace from the time of Romanticism in the 19th century and considered the most important part of the Cultural Landscape of Sintra’s World Heritage site.
Our bus reached this castle after going up a mountain which was dotted with amazing houses which I think were houses made by those who were close to the royals. You can see that those houses are well-maintained as workers can be seen tending to the expensive gardens.
And when you reach the palace itself, you will want to take so many pictures but, alas, you are not permitted to take any pictures within the palace but there are patios where you will be allowed to takes amazing outside pictures of the palace and the surrounding hills/mountains.
The interior of the palace is surprisingly very cozy and very family-oriented. Apparently, the royal couple had a lot of kids (eleven?) and so you can just imagine them going around the rooms. Definitely not as grandiose a palace as Versailles, but this palace has a certain family character to it.
I also remember seeing an amazing tea room with teak décor from India was a favorite room of the Queen, The kitchen which they used for special occasions also was filled with copper pots - but there is smaller kitchen used when there is no palace occasion.
Also, as you are driving around the area, try to see if you can spot in the distance the Moorish castle with its chess-like torres – a fortification from the 8th century.
Entrance: 11 Euros
May 1 – Sept 15
Park 0930- 8PM
Palace 0945-7PM (last admission 0630 PM)
Dept 16 – Apr 30
Park 10 AM- 6PM
Palace10 AM to 530 PM (last admission 445 PM)
Portugal is located in the most western part of Europe facing the sea that was always the exit and in a certain way a dream for the Portuguese, eager to discover far away lands and in a certain way with the backs turned to Europe where war and many menaces always came. It was through that sea that the boats filled with spices came in the XVI century, the gold in the XVIII century and people emigrated to far places throughout the centuries.
Cabo da Roca, reflects all that. It is the westernmost point in Europe, a cape in the top of the cliff with the rough and threatening sea hitting the rocks below. A final extent of Sintra Mountain a land of mist, forest, enchanted Moorish princesses’ hanting the roads and fairy tale palaces hidden amongst the trees. In the V B.C. it is believed it was called the Serpent promontory while Ptolomeu called it the Moon Promontory.
Luis de Camões the famous Portuguese poet said of this place “here where the land ends and the sea begins”.
Cabo da Roca is today a very nice place to visit with a beautiful XVIII century lighthouse, part of a beautiful natural park where around there are many beaches. In this salted and windy part of the country there are many plants blooming. One of them, is the endemic and endangered Armeria pseudarmeria that gives beautiful flowers.
This is one of the most mystically looking places in Sintra. Localized deep in the mountain, this is a Franciscan Convent from the XVI century. Here you can find out about how they lived and what they did in a worthy guided visit.
To get there if you don’t have a car you can take a bus from the city (weekends only in winter months)
Budget tip: You can buy combined tickets example Capucho’s Convent and Pena’s Palace.
Beach is not one of the priorities for those visiting Sintra, but for more than the usual short visit, it is a considerable alternative, to mix with the many appealing visits in the area.
Praia Grande is the biggest ("grande") beach, and a nice place to rest after the hard walk across the city and many parks.
Located just to the west of the Sintra National Palace beside the main tourist information office, this church was originally built in the Romanesque style, probably dating from the second half of the 12th century. It was then substituted in the reign of Dom Dinis (13th century) by a Gothic church, as confirmed by the stone plaque of Margarida Fernandes (1334). It underwent small restorations during the Renaissance and Mannerist periods before succumbing to damage the 1755 earthquake. It was then rebuilt, keeping its 18th century features.
Located on the road that leads to the Santa Maria Church and Moorish Castle, this fountain is medieval in origin, but reconstructed in the late eighteenth century. It is known for the medicinal qualities of its water, which springs from two spouts in the form of breasts. There is a local saying that anyone who drinks Sabuga water will never forget Sintra.
Located in the old quarter of the town centre by following some backstreets uphill, this fountain existed at least as long ago as the 14th century, but its present form was given to it in 1787. It is known for its spout which has the configuration of a wine pipe.
This tower originally dates back to the fifteenth century but was rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake. In addition to telling the time, its bells have always signalled moments of popular joy or rebellion.
Hans and I just wanted to stay low-key in Sintra, (after a very busy and long day in Lisbon), mostly just visiting the Royal Palace and walking around town. We spotted the little TOURIST TRAIN or Comboio Touristico and thought that was a great idea for us to explore the town. The train starts in the Main Square, near the Royal Palace. It winds its way around town and up into the Hills and past the Town Hall and the Railway Station. It was fun to wave at all the VTers we saw along the way - walking - sitting at terraces - sightseeing - sitting at terraces. Did I mention we saw lots of VTers sitting at terraces!!
What a Hoot! VTers yelled " Hey, there's Hans and Lori on the little train"
The duration of the ride was 30 minutes.
Every day from 10:30 a.m. - all year round.
Adults: 5,00 Euros
Children under 12: 2,00 Euros
Although we only had enough time to take in two of Sintra’s many sights, I would very much like to return one day to explore further. It seems that most people do as we did and come only for a day trip from Lisbon or the coast, but Sintra definitely merits an overnight stop in order to properly appreciate all that it has to offer.
The other major sights that I would have liked to have seen are:
~ The Moorish Castle, perched on the hill-top above the town. This was built by the Moors in the 8th or 9th century and although now largely in ruins, by all accounts affords wonderful views of Sintra and the surrounding countryside.
~ The Pena Palace, built in 1839, and commonly regarded as the most complete and notable example of Portuguese architecture in the Romantic period. This is the sight I most regret not fitting into my day, as I have heard only wonderful things about both the building itself, its gardens and the views to be had from its hill-top location. Its style is fanciful but seems to harmonise well with its surroundings, and the colourful towers and eclectic mix of Moorish, Gothic and Manueline motifs is perhaps surprisingly successful. If you wan to visit it’s a stiff uphill walk of several kilometres, or a short taxi ride.
~ The Monserrate Palace, another product of the Romantic period. Its oriental influences are said to be reminiscent of the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, England. This too requires a longish walk (though more on a level) or a taxi ride.
~ The Queluz Palace, dating from the mid 18th century, with some French and Baroque influences. It lies 15 kilometres from Sintra itself so you will certainly want to take a taxi to this one.
~ Monastery of the Capuchos, a 16th century monastery tucked into the rocky landscape. Its little chapel, refectory and living quarters are cut into the crags in an almost troglodyte fashion, and some of the cells lined with cork. This is another of the more outlying sights, about nine kilometres from the town.
- Main: Capela Palatina/Palatine Chapel; built during the 14th century.
- Second and third: Sala dos Arabes/Arab Room; bedchambre of King João I at the beginning of the 15th century.
- Fourth: Sala Manuelina/Manueline Hall; main hall of royal residence built by Manuel I at the beginning of the 16th century.
- Fifth: Kitchen.
- Main and second: Sala dos Cisnes/Swan Hall; 15th century.
- Third: Sala das Pegas/The Mogpie Room; 15th century and described by King Duarte as the Chamber of State.
- Fourth: Sala Júlio César/Julius Caesar Room: Named after the 16th Flamish tapestry depicting a scene from the life of Julius Caesar.
- Fifth: Sala das Galés/Galleon Room: Built at the transition of the 16th and the 17th centuries.
There is an electric bike rental in the middle of town. Now these aren't full electric scooters so you need to be in decent shape because there are a lot of hills in Sintra, but the electric motor on the bikes helps you get up the hills. It provides some power but if you are heavy like me (185 lbs) or larger, you need to work harder than a light person. For example, we had 4 people in our group and the girls absolutely loved it because they weighed only 120 lbs or so so the electric motor was strong enough to get them up the hills with little effort, but me and my brother weigh much more and we were "working hard for the money"... kind of felt like Raul Alcala chasing Greg LeMonde through the Alps at times. It was extra discouraging for us, because the girls were so much faster too...we couldn't catch them. But even with that, i would absolutely do it again. If you are thinking about this... make sure you are fit before you try it.
This is the best way to see Sintra for a few reasons.
1. Cost. We rented them for a half day (3 hours) for 17 Euros... it would cost 19 if you have less than 3 people. With the rental you get access to see all the palaces and castles which is a great deal because the main palace at the top of the hill costs 11 Euros, the palace in town costs 5 Euros, and the bus up to the castle and main palace costs 9 Euros. So with the bike you are actually saving money and having a great fun day in the fresh air.
2. Fun. It was great buzzing though the streets rather than sitting in crowded bus. And it gave us total freedom to go and see anything we wanted.
1. Cobblestone. Be careful on the cobble stone. I went too fast and lost my chain. It was hard to get it back on.
2. Cars and buses. The roads are narrow and this is always dangerous when on a bike. They give you helmets when you rent the bike and i advise you wear it for sure.
3. Speed downhill. Going down the hills was very steep and my brakes were a little suspect. I had to take it very slow and it got a little dodgey in a couple spots.
4. Weight and be fit. Like i said above, you better be in okay shape if you weigh 150 lbs or more... the little electric motor isn't that strong and the hills are steep.