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National Palace of Pena
National Palace of Pena constitutes one of the great expressions of Romantism in Portugal in the 19th century. This National Monument was built by the initiative of D. Fernando of Saxe Coburgo-Gotha, who married Queen Mary II, in 1836. Endowed with a very complete education, the future King Fernando II was fallen in love quickly by Sintra and, when going up the Mountain range for the first time, sighted the ruins of the old Convent of Frades Hieronimitas, originally built in the reign of king John II and substantially transformed by king Manuel I that, when fulfilling a promise, ordered it to be reconstructed, into rock, in praise of Our Lady of Pena, donating it again to the Ordem dos Monges de S. Jerónimo(a munks order).
From the Ruins a Palace from the fables is born
With the earthquake of 1755, that devasted Lisbon and all the surrounding region, the convent of the Pena fell in ruins. But the Chapel, with magnificent retable in marble and alabaster attributed to Nicholas of Chanterenne, remained unbroken. Were these ruins, in the steep top of the Mountains of Sintra, that had astonished the young prince D. Fernando. In 1838, he decided to acquire the old convent, and all the fence involving, the surrounding Castle of Mouros (Castle of Moors) and other quintas (farms) and bushes. Thus, he gave a beginning to his romantic dream: to reconstruct the old convent and to annex a new part to it for complement of this summer residence of the Portuguese Royal Family.
He also thought ordering to plant an English style park, with the most varied, exotic and rich species of trees. By this, the Park and Palace of Pena are seen as from a book of enchanted princes and princess'. The Palace, itself, has a profusion of styles and the volume movement have an inusual architecture. Almost all the Palace seats in enormous rocks, and the mixture of styles that exhibits (neo-gothic, neo-manuelin, neo-Islamic, neo-renascence, among other stiles) are all intentional, in the 19th century people used to like what was exotic.
The set of the diverse sentry boxes, of the most varied forms and shapes, the uneven terraces, covered with tiles in neo-Hispanic-Arabic style are significant elements. The adaptation of the window of the Convent of Christ in Tomar, in the side of the Pátio dos Arcos and the notable figure of the Triton, symbolizing, according to some authors, the Creation of the World, are basic details in the interpretation of this Palace.
The interior of the Palace
The creation of the interiors of the Palace of Pena were adaptated to be the summer residence of the real family. It has excellent works in estuque, painted walls in trompe-l'oeil and diverse coverings in tile of 19th century, taking part of the numorous royal colections.
The Palace today
Today, The Palace of Pena is open to the general public and is part of the World Heritage Site that is the Cultural Landscape of Sintra.
- Information from IPPAR - Instituto Português do Património Arquitectónico (in portuguese)
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