Fancy Pena Palace in Fog

Pena National Palace. Sintra, Portugal.

Pena National Palace. Sintra, Portugal.

The best time for visiting the mystical town of Sintra in Portugal is June, because:

  • the sky will be blue, the sun will be bright, and there will be no rain, fog, or wind;
  • you will be able to take plenty of wonderful shots of the Pena Palace, Quinta da Regaleira, Convent of the Capuchos, and other attractions of Sintra, but every one of these pictures will be typical and overfilled with your colleagues, tourists;
  • you will be standing in queues everywhere—to take a bus, to buy a ticket, to enter to any cafe, palace, or villa;
  • you will constantly be seeking a parking place for your auto, and, chances are, you will not find one on the narrow mountainous streets of Sintra;

The worst time for visiting the mystical town of Sintra in Portugal is January, because:

  • the sky can be deep-gray, the sun can be hidden by clouds, it can be rainy, foggy, and windy, BUT…
  • there will be no queues anywhere, and almost nobody in buses, cafes, hotels, and nearby attractions;
  • you will be able to take really mystical shots of the Pena Palace or the Convent of the Capuchos, from unusual angles, and show them to the readers of your travel blog;

Sure enough, we chose January.

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Convent of the Capuchos: a Souvenir in the Forest

 

The inner yard of the Convent of the Capuchos. Sintra, Portugal.

The inner yard of the Convent of the Capuchos

Probably, you have often seen toy home decorations such as tiny fountains. Each one has its plot: a little bit of mountains, a little bit of bushes, a tiny home or a mill with a small waterfall, or something similar. They are like bonsai, and they have one thing in common: they all seem to be from a fairytale. Maybe this is one of the reasons why we love them. Which of you did not love to listen to fairytales in your childhood? Please, raise your hand. Not one hand. I knew it.

These small home fountains are part of our childhood. Now, imagine such a home decoration in full size, like a real house. That is the concept of the Convent of the Capuchos in Sintra, Portugal, or Convento de Santa Cruz da Serra da Sintra.

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Castles of the Knights Templar in Portugal’s History

 

Templar's convent and castle in Tomar, Portugal.

Templar’s convent and castle in Tomar, Portugal.

Upon arrival at the Lisbon airport on January 5th, we stayed there only long enough to claim our baggage; a very eventful 10-day car trip around Portugal’s cities awaited us. Our GPS navigator calculated a course and we moved to a little-known Portuguese village, Alvega. Ninety minutes later, our rented Citroen was already parked at the Manor House Solar de Alvega.

That ancient house was chosen to be the starting point for our fascinating acquaintance with Portuguese history. The best places to visit in Portugal we had already identified at home, in advance. Judge for yourself. Within a radius of a hundred kilometers around Alvega, there were such historic Portuguese cities as:

  • Alcobaca with the gravestone of the most popular Portuguese Queen, Ines de Castro;
  • Tomar which has been the capital of the Portuguese Knights Templar since the 12th century;
  • the Almourol Castle, the Templars’ outpost on the Tejo River;
  • Coimbra, one of the first Portuguese capitals;
  • and the unique Portuguese village of Monsanto which would surprise us a bit later.

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