Back in March, we spent five days in Lisbon, dedicating a full day to Sintra and its palaces. Unfortunately, we only managed to visit two of them and one of them absolutely stole my heart away. So let me present to you the Monserrate Palace, a one-of-a-kind place tucked away in the Portuguese hills.

woman in the monserrate palace park

I’m not exactly sure why, maybe because the second I laid my eyes on it, I could imagine what it must have been like to live there. The more rooms we discovered, the easier it was to play out scenes set in the 1930s. That is mostly due to the fact that during WWII, dinners with German officials happened at the Monserrate Palace, and spies working for the Allies were present too. But I’m rushing ahead, this palace has a fascinating history and one that started long before WWII.

First of all, it’s the farthest one of all the castles in Sintra. As a consequence, people often bypass it in favor of the more popular palaces. However, it’s a hidden gem in Sintra and one I would urge you to visit. As dreamy as they all are, this palace of Sintra is the one that left a lasting impression on me.

The palaces of Sintra and the city itself are a joint UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the 19th century, this place became the pinnacle of Romanticism. With noblemen from Lisbon escaping to the countryside, ruins were being turned into palaces while new ones were being erected. Slowly, the landscape of Sintra was turning into a fairytale.

It’s no surprise that the Monserrate Palace inspires such daydreams when you look at the striking architecture. Neo-Gothic and Moorish architectural influences perfectly depict Sintra Romanticism. Or as this mixture of styles is more often called, Eclecticism. Whatever you want to call it, the result is something out of a dream.

architecture details at monserrate palace

Winding forest paths lead you to the astounding Monserrate Palace. Once or twice, we felt like we were getting lost in a jungle. But what a delight even that would’ve been. Fountains, lakes, ruins, waterfalls, and endless greenery make for idyllic scenery.

Brimming with history and life, the Monserrate Palace would be the perfect filming location. One of its residents during the 1930s, Ida Kingsbury said: “And so our shameless days passed with rides and picnics, suppers and bathes on the still unpolluted golden sands of an unchanged Portugal, basking in what seemed an unending summer.” Those words instantly made me feel nostalgic over something I had never experienced. The palace and its gardens came alive before my eyes, playing out scenes from past lives.

Furthermore, the breathtaking gardens made me feel like I had traveled far away from Portugal, to an even more exotic location. A blend of local and exotic plants results in beautiful lush greenery. I didn’t know where to look first because every corner was marvelous.

Smaller in size than the other Sintra palaces, the Monserrate palace will still take your breath away. I couldn’t even pick my favorite interior because they’re all incredible. Delicate details form many ornaments that decorate the palace walls. Most notably, the corridors are an absolute marvel. They end in round rooms on each end and they are both amazing.

On one end, the music room has an impressive pink glass dome. Not far from there, you’ll find a cozy library. An ornate staircase leads to the top floor. The rooms up there provide all the details of the palace’s history. After centuries of short owners, it was Francis Cook who restored the palace and used it as a summer residence. The British merchant and art collector rekindled its magic and made it into the fairytale place we see today.

Visiting the Monserrate Palace and Park

We visited during mid-March, which I would consider off-season. Foremost because of the transport to any of these palaces! I decided we should start with Monserrate Palace since it’s the farthest one. Later on, I was happy about that decision because there was no bus or tuk-tuk in sight. So we set off on foot towards Quinta da Regaleira, enjoying the lovely weather. Ultimately, that 40-minute walk was so enchanting that I didn’t even mind the lack of transport.

The best part about our visit was that we had the whole place to ourselves. We arrived around opening time and encountered maybe three other people for the remainder of our time there. It was divine and I was glad to have visited early in the morning. This place is even more captivating when devoid of crowds. We even wandered off to the kitchen which was undergoing restoration but still hiding an exquisite kitchen stove.

In total, we devoted one full day to Sintra and that wasn’t nearly enough. I knew from the start that we would have to compromise and mostly, I knew that I would have to return. Not only to see the rest Sintra offers but also to revisit this magnificent palace. Because I genuinely can’t wait to see this masterpiece one more time!

In the end, the Monserrate Palace was my very favorite thing about Sintra. I wanted to hold onto it for as long as possible while I was there. This hidden gem is more than just a palace, it’s a place brimming with history and magic. Awe-inspiring and dreamy, I find myself thinking about it often. An oasis of calm in the hills of Portugal, Monserrate Palace is a magical sight that everyone needs to visit!

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