We took the bus upwards and onwards for a few more minutes and it dropped us off at the gate to the Magic Kingdom, well it felt that way, but instead was the Palace and Park of Pena. From the gate, where you show you’re tickets, you can walk around a rather unique and interesting looking gardens. We were tired and knew we’d be spending a fair amount of time at the palace itself so we held off on the gardens but really, really wanted to go see them.
To get to the actual palace on top of the hill you have to walk, up the hill. So we slowly drudged our way up a rather steep incline along a cobbled road, through a nice overhang of forest, to the palace entrance. As you approach the top you can finally see the one side of the palace and begin to see its oddity. As you approach you’re looking at the more yellow painted portion of the palace walls, but you can also see the purple and red on other parts in the background. There are plants around and throughout the grounds towards the entrance which differ in their strangeness as well. If you could ever step into a world like Alice’s Wonderland this palace would be it. The colours are crazy on the outside of the palace and its decorations are extravagant and odd on the outside as well. Parts of the outside look like a cookie cutter sand castle and others have Moorish influences and arches and doomed caps. This place is definitely a must see to believe it kind of place.
You enter in through a giant Moorish archway and then a sort of tunnel and mini bridge. Then you’re officially inside the palace and can walk along outside, where great views abound of the forest around, or you can enter inside and see a part of the luxury that was this place. We walked around outside first and looked at the fun colours and architecture. There is one giant statue and carving into the wall that is a representation of Triton. It is crazy cool and awesome and weird as it looks like he’s squatting over the archway to do his business. Along the outside is a lovely area to sit and look back at the palace or out into the woods and you can picture all the lords and ladies of the manor doing just that.
Once inside you can do a little history lesson and learn about the families that lived here and how the palace came to be and through some photos see how they looked, for better or worse as it ends up. At one point some cousins married each other and if I’m not mistaken one branch of the family tree eventually ties to Queen Victoria of England, so I guess somewhat important for those of us tied back to that chunk of the world. Moving on you can walk through most of the palace which is set up in different rooms trying to re-enact what they would have looked like at different time periods of its existence. There are really old beds and linens, amazingly elaborate powder rooms (I now know what a powder room looked like, and its bigger than my master bedroom now), banquet rooms and halls, living room after living room, studies, other writing rooms, and more, all filled with some of the oddest furniture and decorations I’ve seen. Alice and the Mad Hatter would be very at home in this place. In one of the last rooms is where they displayed a bunch of deer heads that I’m assuming have been there for a long time. They went fully around the circular room 8 feet in the air above you while the rest of the room had display cases of vases and the like. One room had a little hippo statue, another enclave giant life sized herons. Another hall was filled with standing knights armour and swords along with giant wooden couches/chesterfields with 2 metre tall mirrors attached to the back. Chandeliers, stained glass, you name it this is a palace in every sense of the word….just a little on the odd side.
After our tour inside and out, in which we spent just under 3 hours there, we slowly headed back down the hill to the gate. If you wish, there is a bus running between the gate and the palace, but it costs another 3 Euros if I remember correctly. The walk is only about 10 minutes, but all uphill, but if you’re here to walk around a palace you probably are not worried about walking. In any event we made it back to the gate and garden which we didn’t see because we didn’t have the energy, or more precisely I was told by the pregnant women that we were done for the day. So we walked back out of the gate and off to the bus stop where we waited a while and then hopped on our bus for the ride back down the hill to the train station. The bus does stop on the edge of the village, so if you wanted to go back into the village after seeing the Castle and Palace you could do that, and still use you’re one way ticket to get back to the train station. Or if you went to the right stop you could start the whole castle – palace circuit over again. We almost got off to stay for dinner in the village, but instead decided to head back to Lisbon so we were there since it was already after 6 pm and we still had to take the train back.
Trains leave every 15 minutes or so, so the wait was minimal before our train was off and on the way to Lisbon where we went to catch dinner in the Baixa. See the next post for a great place to go eat, fun atmosphere, decent food, great cheap house wine.
– Faas-Track Travel