Sintra is well known for its lovely village and big monuments, like the palace and the castle. But to truly experience this fantastic place you have to discover its hill, the Serra de Sintra. Called 'Monte da Lua' - moon hill - since ancient times, it hides under all of its green many beautiful places, old mansions, contemplative sights and romantic hideouts.
The best way to discover the hill is just to follow one of the many trails available, be it by foot or bycicle, taking your time, and surprising yourself at every step. Any way you choose to do it, below are a few great stopping points you might want to check out on your trip!
Vila Sassetti is an old elegant summer house, nowadays restored to its original looks. It sits halfway through a path connecting the village to Castelo dos Mouros, and you are free to wander about the ornamented garden and its many stairways.
The peculiar Chalet da Condessa has plenty to see both inside, where each room is adorned in a different way, and outside, with the surprising use of cork as decoration. The huge, beautiful garden is a real treat in itself too. Among the lush vegetation and the large boulders, there are several trails that make for the best romantic walks!
In Quinta da Pena there is a lot you can do: stroll around the trails, have a picnic under the shade of big trees, ride a horse or a chariet, or just enjoy the restored ornamented farm. Its location is mid-way from the Chalet and the Pena Palace, and it sits close to many other trails you can take to get to know the Moon Hill. This is a great option for a more relaxed pace.
This is the highest peak of Sintra's hill! From this point you can admire the vastness of the park and the landscape around it, with a great angle of the Palácio da Pena. The trail leading here may be a challenge, but it will be well worth it! The carved cross that gives the name to this spot is called Cruz Alta, literally 'high cross'.
Palácio de Seteais is today a luxury hotel, but the gardens and the terrace are open for everyone to admire and enjoy. From here you get a different sort of view over the region, to the north. A good spot to spend some time relaxing if you're climbing this side of the hill.
The Santuário da Peninha has been a place of worship since many centuries ago, but still remains a little know wonder. Several building were constructed around it, partially hiding the beautiful baroque chapel at the top of the mount. When you get there, you will have a spectacular view of the western portuguese coast!
At Convento dos Capuchos, you can't help but feel completely surrounded by the hill, the vegetation freely growing around the old convent, and actually being part of it, like the granite stones that form some of its walls. It was built with a philosophy of stripped-back architecture and decoration, giving itself completely to nature. It is a place of contemplation!
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