Monday, June 29, 2009

An 8th Century Moorish Castle

Stacey took this picture when we were at the Palace of Pena.
In the background you can see on the left the 8th Century
Moorish Castle standing on top of Sintra's highest hill.

Here we are with the girls after climbing to the top.

Snaking along the mountain ridge, the castle offers breathtaking views of the beautiful area.

This is a view of Sintra from the Moorish Castle.
After walking all the way to the top, Tom carried Carys when she was tired on the way back.

Madison posing by a fountain from the Moorish Empire.

This is the highest point of the Moorish Fortification.

Carys made it to the top!

You can see Tom and Madison walking along the fortress wall.

Resting along the path with Sintra in the background.
Carys sneaking a peak of the beautiful countryside.

Tom made it to the top with Madison on his shoulders.

More Moorish ruins along the trail.

This Moorish Castle is just minutes away from the Sintra train station. We visited both the Moorish Castle and the Palace of Pena on the same day. It was quite an adventure and when we returned to Sintra we were able to take tour of all the historical sites. We rode on a cute little tour train that the kids really liked while eating some delicious pastries. We were told that when the famous British poet and traveler Lord Byron stopped by in the 18th century he wrote that Sintra is "perhaps in every respect the most delightful in Europe," and calling it a "glorious Eden" in one of his poems. He stayed at Lawrence's Hotel which is the oldest hotel in the Iberian Peninsula. I loved this magical town and would love to go back, stay at the Lawrence Hotel (if it's not too expensive) and go on the horse drawn carriage ride through the town at evening time. Doesn't that sound fun. This was definitely one of the most beautiful places in Portugal.

The Palace of Pena on the hills of Sintra

The Palace of Pena in Sintra Hills is a beautiful example of nineteenth century Portuguese Romanticism. Stacey took this picture at the Moorish Castle that was built during the eighth century for fortification. In the Middle Ages a twelfth century chapel was dedicated to Our Lady of Pena. During the fifteenth century it was a Monastery and in the nineteenth century the "New Palace" was constructed by King Fernando II and Dona Maria II.
The pathway up to the castle was beautiful.

The girls were so excited to be at a real castle!
Built in the 1840's, I think it is one of Europe's most fantastic palaces.

We went on a self guided tour all around the palace.
It includes a draw bridge, domes, a Neo-Manueline arch, all washed in an array of pastel shades.

The view of the beautiful city of Sintra is in the background and includes several other palaces.

I was so excited to able to go inside the castle.
It was decorated in late Victorian and Edwardian furnishings, rich ornaments, paintings, and priceless porcelain preserved just as the royal family left them.
The mystical hills are dotted with fairytale palaces and villas. The Romans named it "Cynthia" after the goddess of the moon. Surrounding the palace is Pena Park, filled with a variety of trees and exotic plants from the former colonies of the Portuguese empire.

The romantic gardens were lovely with hydrandges galore.

Stacey loved the gorgeous lush gardens.
Madison loved the beautiful flowers.

Some of the areas were a little scary if you are afraid of heights.

At the top of the castle is where they celebrated the first sight of Vasca da Gama's returning fleet. I love all the historical facts we learned while visiting Sintra.
As you can see we feel in love with this place and took tons of pictures.
I thought it was interesting the way the castle was built right on the rocks.
This little lookout was almost at the top of the palace. This where we took a break and had a little treat. It was so fun visiting this beautiful area. It was one of the favorite places that I visited in Portugal and I would love to go back to this enchanting area again.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lisbon, Portugal

Stacey took this picture right before we landed in Lisbon.
The girls slept well on the flight through the night. I was so glad
that they were comfortable with a whole row to themselves.

Before we checked into our hotel the girls had a few minutes
to play at this playground next to our hotel room.

On a walk to the Metro we saw this beautiful peacock.
Downtown Lisbon was well lit at night and we enjoyed looking at all the historical buildings.

The building in the back is used for bullfights on Thursdays and was recently restored.

The girls enjoyed riding on Grandpa's shoulders whenever they were
tired of walking. They love the view and being close to Grandpa.

Cascais, Portugal

A short train ride from Lisbon leads to Cascais, a formerly quaint fishing villiage that became a popular resort by European nobility and kings in the early 20th century. Now it is a colorful place to relax and have some delicious fish for lunch. The kids had a blast building sand castles and playing in the water at the beach. Grandma and Grandpa had a great time too at this little beach town.