We finished up our time in Lisbon out of the city center. Sintra is a town about 45 minutes away (by train) that people refer to as the fairy tale town. There are castles, an old monastery on a hill, and palaces. We took a guided walking tour through the city. It was nice to have someone explain what we were seeing, but the tour ended up being a little too long for our taste. Thankfully, we were able to see some of the major sites before heading back to Lisbon.
We got off the train and began the walk up to the main part of the city. The fountain below is fed from springs and has original mosaic tiles all around it. We even saw a dog get a drink while we were standing near here!
This is the Palacio National. It was the residence of the monarchy of Portugal between the 15th and 19th centuries.
Above it, up on a hill, was the Moorish castle. This area has so many palaces because it was the summer home of the wealthy and aristocratic people from Lisbon. It was also preserved when the earthquake happened in Lisbon in the 1700s, so the architecture is much older.
We went in the Quinta de Regaleria, which was an entire estate built in the 1800s. It's not nearly as old as many of the other sites in Sintra, but it was very ornate. Lots of fountains, underground pathways/caves, and a giant spiral well (that was almost in the Lord of the Rings movies!) were featured at this estate. The owner was a Free Mason, so lots of Mason rituals and meanings were incorporated into the estate.
There were huge gardens at this estate. All the flowers were beautiful!
When we got back to Lisbon, we went to Bario Alto to find dinner. This street is famous, because it's painted pink and had the bright umbrellas hanging over it.
We ate at a Mexican restaurant and had delicious tacos. There was a slight misunderstanding when we ordered the margaritas and they brought 3 out instead of 2. We ended up drinking them anyway-you can't let a good margarita go to waste!
On Monday, we went to Belem. This is an area about 20 minutes by tram outside of the main part of Lisbon, right along the river. This area was also preserved when the earthquake happened, so it's one of the best areas of Lisbon to see what the old city looked like when the explorers left Portugal for "The New World".
Unfortunately, I hadn't checked the schedule before we made this plan and the monastery and church (behind me in the photo) in this area were closed on Mondays. Next time we're in Lisbon I definitely want to go to see the beautiful church. We also forgot to stop and get pasteis de Belem, which are the famous pastries only from Belem. We had lots of pasteis de nada in Lisbon, but wanted to try to originals. We have several things to do when we return to Lisbon!
Below is Belem Tower. It was the last thing the explorers saw before they left Portugal because it is farthest to the east. It was very cool to sit and think about all the people from history who have seen this building.
We got tickets to MAAT and went into both buildings. The first one is an old power plant and has modern art in it, as well as an exhibit that explains how power was created when the plant was active. The second building is more modern and was recently built and had modern multimedia art in it. It was possibly the strangest combination of things in a museum I've ever seen, but it was interesting to go through. I don't know that I would recommend someone go there unless you were able to get free tickets like we had (through Cultivist). It was interesting to see, but I think the museum (Museum of Ancient Art) we went to in central Lisbon was much better.
The last thing we saw in Belem was the monument for the explorers. The impact of these Portuguese explorers is still celebrated and this monument was very impressive. I loved the detail of each of the statues on the base of the monument, as well as the map in the walkway that shows the places and dates of the explorations.
We had a great time in Portugal and will definitely return!
We're Brennan & Megan
Since June 2022, we have been traveling to learn more about ourselves and the world around us.