Where We Be
Monserrate Palace -- Sintra, Portugal
While not as dramatic as Pena Palace or the
Castle of the Moors, Monserrate Palace is still
worth seeing, especially with its surrounding
gardens and park. We walked 45 minutes to
Monserrate, which is along the same road as
Quinta da Regaleira but further down. The vast
majority of visitors arrive by car or tourist bus
#434. The mansion has a distinctive circular
exterior and pretty interior, but it's the land-  
scaping around the house that makes it special.

In fact, Monserrate is considered one of the
finest Portuguese landscape gardens of the
romantic era. Created by Sir Francis Cook in
the mid 1800s, the gardens contain floral
species from around the world. We followed
winding paths past ornamental lakes, small
waterfalls, palm trees, lush ferns, an arid
Mexican garden, and Roman and Indian arches.
A particularly intriguing feature is the use of
fake ruins, a popular romantic conceit of the
1800s. The faux ruined chapel was our favorite.
The grounds also contain the first lawn planted
in Portugal, a huge swath of grass grounds-
keepers were mowing with push mowers on
the day we visited.
The palace cohesively mixes Arabic, Gothic, and Indian
architectural styles to create something new and unusual
The terrace and gardens are a quiet place to retreat
from the crowds that are so prevalent in most of Sintra
Outside on the terrace, you begin to appreciate how
serene and lovely the surrounding landscape is
You can see how pretty the domed ceiling is in this
picture of the Music Room (same room as above)
Compared to other palaces in Sintra Monserrate isn't very big, but its bare-bones rooms are lovely. Most of the furniture
was sold off in the mid-20th century, but old photographs on the walls show how it would have looked in its heydey.
The dome in the main hall is ornately carved and quite striking
The library is one of the few rooms that is still furnished
The property includes a huge swath of
green lawn -- the first of its kind in Portugal
Our favorite fake ruin on the property was the chapel, which
looks like it has lost the battle to the surrounding forest
This chapel doorway is completely overrun by an Australian Banyan tree.
We saw for-real stuff like this in Cambodia, and this is a convincing fake!
A dark pond is covered
with natural green "litter"
Don't miss the lake with lily pads across the street
from Monserrate Park, which is also quite pretty
After touring the interior, we paused for a little snack at the cafe on
premises --  a chocolate croissant for me and “pastel nata” for Robin
During our walk back to Sintra, we paused to take a photo of another of
the many palaces in the area. This one is called the Palace of Seteais.
Monseratte Palace is about 2 miles outside of Sintra's historic center
so it often gets overlooked by visitors even though it's quite beautiful
A map of the summer house shows how
it is surrounded by beautiful gardens
A gallery with carved arches radiates from the
fountain, lined by beautiful marble pillars
A fountain in the Main Hall serves
as a centerpiece of the palace
This is the top of the domed ceiling in the Music Room
Cork oaks like this are the primary
source of cork for wine bottle stoppers