Most times, when you look at guides to Sintra or top sights to see in Sintra, Monserrate Palace (and it’s surrounding parks) are overlooked and yet, from speaking to locals in nearby Cascais (a lovely seaside town), this is one sight that needs to be seen in Sintra and so, with that in mind, we decided to pop into Monserrate palace before leaving Sintra and making our way back to London.
The parking situation here alone, shows you how not many people (especially if you’re short on time), think to visit this amazing place as the car parks were pretty much empty when we arrive – save for a tour bus (or perhaps a wedding bus? See below) and a couple of cars.
To set some context, back at Pena Palace, you had to wait till someone moved out of a parking space on the road and jump right into said space on a rather narrow winding road. (After a few attempts, we were lucky enough to get a space but it was not as ‘sans-hassle’ as one’d like to think.)
Wandering through the grounds, through a pathway we hoped would lead to the palace, I was very quickly reassured that we’d made the right decision in sacrificing other sights in Sintra to see this one (we’d loved to have seen every single one but there just wasn’t enough time to ‘see it all’ on this trip – the perfect excuse to return to Sintra soon).
Soon enough, the stunning Arabesque wonder that is Monserrate Palace was in front of us and boy was it worth the hype! See, I love the intricate details that you find in Arabesque architecture and Monserrate Palace is the perfect example of this architectural style.
We arrived to a man playing away on the guitar (turns out, there was a wedding being held here) but asides the wedding guests (all of whom were festively dressed and a bit ‘merry from wine’ and hence easy to spot), there were probably just a tiny handful of people here – like seriously, I think we saw no more than 5 other people here.
Anyway, enough rambling from me, let me take you on a walk through this Portuguese gem…
See what I mean about that intricate Arabesque detailing? It’s so beautiful, unbelieveably precise and a perfect confluence of design and mathematics (even if subliminally).
Monserrate Palace is considerably smaller than some of the other Palaces in Sintra and as such, means you have very little excuse to not visit, as it compact enough to be visited relatively quickly – compared to the others of course.
Before long though, we’d gone way past the time we were meant to have left Sintra (I think we were meant to have left 30 minutes before) and so it was pretty much a case of hot-footing it straight to the car and heading for the airport, swinging past the gates of Quinta da Regaleira as we went past!
Sintra is an absolute gem and a place I’m pretty sure everyone who visits ends up falling deep in lust (or perhaps even possibly, in love) with and if there’s one recommendation I would make, it’s to set yourself at least 2/3 days to see it properly. That won’t still feel like enough but you’ll at least be able to cover most of the sights and leave with even more reasons to return to this beautiful Portuguese town.