Palácio de Monserrate Sintra | Portugal Visitor


Palácio de Monserrate, Sintra

Palácio de Monserrate – An Eccentric English Whimsy

Palácio de Monserrate is a masterpiece of Revivalist architecture

The Palácio de Monserrate is part of the UNESCO World Heritage cultural landscape in Sintra and located in a fertile 30-acre park.

The palace is noted for its Romantic and Moorish revival architecture. The large gardens include orchards, rare species of plants and an eco-friendly environment including hydro, solar and wind power.

William Beckford.
William Beckford
Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business.
Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business
Palácio de Monserrate, Sintra, Lisbon.
Francis Cook

History

The property that is now the Palácio de Monserrate dates back supposedly to an 11th-century chapel and the reign of King Afonso Henriques.

Another chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Monserrate was built by Friar Gaspar Preto in 1540. The rector of the Todos os Santos Hospital in Lisbon, the good friar planned to use the estate to grow vegetables for the hospital. By the 17th century the land was owned by the wealthy Mello e Castro family with connections to Portuguese territories in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) during the Age of Discoveries.

Damaged in the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake, in the 18th and 19th centuries the estate passed into English hands, first of all Gerard de Visme, who made a fortune through the diamond trade with Brazil, and a member of the so-called ‘British Factory’ in Lisbon.

It was later sub-leased by William Beckford (1760-1844), another rich Englishman, who was fleeing England after been caught in a compromising situation with a 16 year-old boy.

The main house at Palácio de Monserrate in Sintra.
The main house at Palácio de Monserrate in Sintra

Beckford, the dilettante author of the Gothic novel, Vathek (1786), began restoration of the house and garden.

The estate was visited by Lord Byron in 1809, who mentions the house in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. The house was later leased to Francis Cook (1817-1901), a wealthy English merchant, industrialist and art collector.

It was Cook with English architect James Knowles who restored the house. Cook was created 1st Visconde de Monserrate by a grateful Portuguese monarch for his troubles. Here Cook and his family would spend the summers and entertain on a grand scale. Cook also owned the nearby Convento dos Capuchos (Cork Convent) at the time.

The state acquired the house and grounds in 1949.

The cupola at Palácio de Monserrate in Sintra.
The cupola at the Palácio de Monserrate in Sintra resembles the Duomo in Firenze

Palace

The palace is a fine example of Romantic and Moorish revival architecture with Neo-Gothic elements. The Royal Pavilion in Brighton and the Duomo in Florence are obvious influences on the building’s style.

Highlights include the Main Hall, Gallery, Library and Dining Room.

The Main Hall is dominated by a central octagonal atrium with pink marble columns.

The beautiful, narrow Gallery runs through the entire palace from the North Tower to the South Tower and is richly decorated. An ornate fountain stands within this corridor.

The main house at Palácio de Monserrate in Sintra.
The architecture at the Palácio de Monserrate in Sintra is a mix of different styles including Romantic, Manueline and Moorish revival

The Library, which also served as an office is typical of English country houses of the period with rich walnut door and shelving.

The Sacred Art Room with its stained glass windows is another delight and it was here Cook gathered his collection of religious art.

Other rooms in the palace are the Billiards Room where the men of the house would gather to smoke before joining the ladies in the Sitting Room or Music Room.

The Sitting Room was the usual gathering place for the women and children of the house and has some fine Anglo-Indian furniture.

The Music Room (Sala da Música) was the main entertainments area and is richly decorated with several Classical references.

Lush vegetation in the garden of the Palácio de Monserrate.
Lush vegetation in the garden of the Palácio de Monserrate

The Garden

The exotic garden boasts fountains, grottoes, a rose garden, lakes, and classical statues.

There are rare species of plants and trees from Australia and New Zealand (araucaria, palms, tree ferns), Japan (azalea, bamboo, camellia, rhododendron) and Mexico (agave and yucca) as well as native cork oaks and holly bushes.

Evocative spots to look out for in the garden are Beckford’s Waterfall (Cascata de Beckford), Vathek’s Arch (Arco de Vathek), named after his novel and the ruined chapel now overgrown with an Australian rubber tree.

Beckford's Waterfall (Cascata de Beckford) Palácio de Monserrate.
Beckford’s Waterfall (Cascata de Beckford) in the garden of the Palácio de Monserrate

Information

Park and Palace of Monserrate
2710-405 Sintra
Tel: 219 237 300
www: parquesdesintra.pt

Hours: the palace is open daily from 9 am – 6.30 pm (last entrance 6 pm); adults 8 €. The park is open from 9 am to 7 pm. Take bus #435 from Sintra Station. For a fun day out from March to October the palace offers a full-day picnic program with a hamper from the cafe.

The palace is 3.5 km west of Sintra-Vila. Another must-see palace in Sintra is the superb Quinta da Regaleira as well as the Palácio Nacional de Sintra – Portugal’s oldest royal residence.

Other palaces in Sintra include the Pena Palace and the Palácio de Seteais, now a luxury hotel. Further attractions are the Castle of the Moors, the recent NewsMuseum, the Convento dos Capuchos (Cork Convent) and the Museu Anjos Teixeira. The Camara Municipal de Sintra (Sintra Town Hall) is also a wonderful piece of architecture completed in 1909 in a pleasing marriage of Manueline and Romantic styles.

Getting to Sintra

Buses

There are local buses from Sintra to Cascais (#417), Estoril (#418) and Mafra. From Sintra Station a number of buses run by Scotturb around the sights. Bus #433 (Urbana Sintra) runs into historic Sintra on a circular route. Bus #434 (Pena Tourist) leaves the station 3 (in winter) or 4 times an hour for Sintra Castle, Pena Palace, Vila and Sintra NewsMuseum. Bus #435 also connects to various destinations in the historic center. To get to Cabo da Roca take either bus #403 or the open top tourist bus, Circuito da Roca.

Sintra Station.
Sintra Station

Trains

Sintra Station connects on the Sintra Line to Rossio Station, Oriente, Entrecampos, Sete Rios and Campolide.

There are trains to Sintra approximately every 15 minutes from Rossio on weekdays and every 30 minutes on weekends, with the journey between Lisbon and Sintra taking 39 minutes. On weekdays after 8.38 pm the service is every 30 minutes.

The first train from Rossio is at 6.08 am with the last train at 1.08 am. The last train from Sintra to Rossio leaves Sintra at 12.44 am.

Tivoli Palácio de Seteais in Sintra, Portugal.
Tivoli Palácio de Seteais

Portugal Hotel & Hostel Accommodation

Recommended accommodation in Sintra must include the Tivoli Palácio de Seteais. It is a luxury 5-star hotel set on a hilltop with superb views of the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace. Facilities include a swimming pool, tennis courts and an equestrian center.

Book Hotel Accommodation in and around Sintra

The four-star Pestana Hotel offers a golf course and outdoor pool.

Tivoli Sintra Hotel, also four-star, has well-appointed guest rooms and superb views complete with a recommended restaurant and bar.

With three stars the VIP Inn Miramonte Hotel has an outdoor pool and games room.

See a complete listing of hotels and guesthouses in Sintra.

Hotel Almirante

Hotel Altis

Hotel Britania

Pestana Carlton Palace Hotel

Hotels in Portugal – Booking.com

Hotels in Lisbon – Booking.com

Hotels in Lisbon – Agoda

Hotels in Portugal – Agoda

Lisbon Hop-On Hop-Off Bus, Tramcars, and Yellow Boat River Tour

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Hotels in Spain – Agoda

SINTRA WEATHER

Map

Map of Sintra, Portugal.
Map of Sintra, Portugal



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