So the bus stopped at the entrance to the castle and we hopped off. It doesn’t look like much of an entrance so don’t be deceived. There is a small building that is the ticket booth. I, Ryan, waited in one of the only lines on our trip, to get tickets. If you are planning on going to the Moorish Castle and to the Palace of Pena you can save some money by buying both tickets together which is what I did, no need to do this ahead of time just purchase at your first attraction. Tickets in hand we walked to a little door in a small wall that is the entrance in.
Once inside you are on a stone path walking through the forest. It was really nice to be in some nature again and made us wish we could spend more time at Sintra just to wander in the woods. You follow the path along for quite away passing different forks in the road where you can choose to go different directions seeing more of the area into the woods surrounding the castle proper. We headed up towards the castle entrance which brought us past some old remnants of Moorish homes and a tomb and an small old church. A little farther up the path and you go through the gates into the castle, where someone finally checks your ticket. So if you just felt like walking around the lower area, which is pretty fun in its own right, you could do this for free.
Just inside the gates, if you continue to walk forwards, you end up at what was the gathering area for the troops which is just in front of the outside walls. This area is surrounded by giant old trees and different staircases you can take to get to different parts of the outside walls. So we decided to head up the stairs on the left and start hiking along the edge of the castle walls looking out over the valley and villages and towns below. This is not your square sand castle kind of layout, instead it weaves up and down some rocky hills giving you a great view of the surrounding area while also a good workout as you climb the castle walls. Every so often there is a little tower or keep to go inside and hide from the wind, which, on this day was abundant and a bit chilly, perhaps I should have brought a coat with me, but it was hot in Lisbon and I didn’t, I survived.
At the very top of the castle compound you reach the main keep with a beautiful 360 degree view around the valley, out to the ocean, and back towards Lisbon along the train tracks. Great spot for many pictures and to take a look over and little farther up a neighbouring hill to the Palace of Pena. From here you can see how truly odd it is and the strange colours it was painted, red, purple, yellow, blue here and there, tiles, and more oddities. After resting for a bit we headed down into a different section of the castle, through some ruins that must have been storage buildings or houses at one time, and up and around the walls on the right side until we had done a complete circle of the castle. All told there was probably 200 pictures taken, about 50 saved, and 3 hours of time spent thoroughly looking at the castle. On an even nicer day and knowing the area now it would be a great place to bring a picnic lunch in with you and just sit around looking at the views and eating inside a castle. Lindsay could have spent a little less time there as she doesn’t share the same appreciation of scenic views as I do. She looks for a few minutes, I tend to sit and soak it all in and take pictures of it.
The castle complete we headed back into the grounds surrounding the castle and started wandering through that with the intention of taking a different route back to the entrance gate, which according to the map is doable, and we even managed to pull that off. We made it to the outer walls of the lower section which is covered in moss due to its location in the forest. It makes for a very mystical castle experience in the woods. We stopped to take some baby belly pictures and enjoy this part of the castle grounds all by ourselves as it seems that few to any people actually wander down to this part.
A little walk back up through the woods and we’re back at the entrance of the outside walls. Our timing was pretty good as we walked a few steps up the road to the bus stop and the bus was along a minute or so later to take us up the last little bit to the Palace of Pena.