Journey to the Cintra of the Earth

Sintra is a beautiful town about 30-40 minutes outside of Lisbon, and is a must-see during any visit to the Lisbon area. A bit of trivia we learned from our expert guides is that Sintra used to be spelled Cintra. I don’t know why they changed it. Maybe the Portuguese got tired of the high C’s. Doh! (I like to put bad puns like that in writing because I usually get punched when I say them out loud).  Hopefully they won’t change too many more spellings as we go along, because Portuguese is a difficult enough language to learn as it is! We’ve begun our tutoring, and can now mispronounce a couple more words!

That’s Cati on the left, followed by her husband Tom, Marta, Kevin, and Carolyn. It was an awesome day and they were awesome tour guides!

Our realtor and good friend Marta enlisted the aid of her sister Cati and her husband Tom, who live in Sintra, to give us a guided tour of the iconic Pena Palace and the spooky-looking Quinta da Regaleira estate. Sintra is known for its many 19th-century Romantic architectural monuments, resulting in its classification as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so we jumped at the opportunity to see the area while guided by very knowledgeable people. We enjoyed a full day of walking and picture taking, but still didn’t see nearly everything Sintra has to offer. We shall return!



In the meantime, here are some of the shots we captured:

Well first, I had to steal this one from the internet because there’s no way I could take one this picturesque.
A view from below of the Castle of the Moors, built by the Moors in the 8th and 9th centuries. It was surrendered voluntarily in 1147, which is probably a good thing because they hadn’t invented helicopters yet, and I can’t imagine how even today’s military could fight their way up there otherwise. Despite the fact that, you know, we like castles, we had to save the visit inside for another day.
Part of the Quinta de Regaleria estate, originally built for the Addams Family.
This is a little chapel on the estate. There’s a stairway on the right that leads down to a little room with a hollowed-out altar where I swear they must’ve held human sacrifices. There’s also a quasi-underground path connected to it that takes you to Lurch’s room in the house.
Duh-duh-duh-duh. Snap Snap. Duh-duh-duh-duh. Snap Snap. “They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky, they’re altogether ooky, the Addams Family. Their house is a museum, when people come to see ’em, they really are a scream, The Addams Family!”
Marta swears she just saw Uncle Fester going through that door.
Marta and her willing victim—er, friends.
This may have been the Uncle Fester Marta thought she saw.
This is a view of the Castle of the Moors on the left and the Pena Palace on the right, which was built much later.
This is what you might have seen if your name was Timmy and your dog was named Lassie.
This is the view from above. It is called the “Initiation Well.” With a name like that, you can see why I thought maybe they had human sacrifices on the grounds too. Anyway, we walked all the way down the spiral. And then there’s a network of tunnels. Really cool stuff. Have no idea why they made it all; apparently this well was never used for water, but instead was used for ceremonial purposes that included Tarot initiation rites. Lassie, where are you?
A complete stranger kindly points out the fact that there is water falling here.
That may look like green cement, but it’s actually a pond that will suck you down and turn you green up to your butt should you fall in. We did have to walk across it to get out from under the well, but we’re happy to say none of us turned into half-green monsters. Almost, but we kept our balance. Sure, there was a lot of arm flailing, but hey.
We were mystified as to what this was without the services of that helpful stranger.
Carolyn makes sure to tell me that this is a picture I cannot put on the blog.
There is only one steep, switchback-laden road up to the castle. These little Tuk Tuks are the best idea for the ride, because huge busses come barreling up and down like they do it every day. Oh wait, they do. Anyway, the road gets very clogged with lots of pedestrians and these Tuk Tuks pushing their lawnmower engines to the limit as well as cars of every size. We ended up having to park a fair ways away from the entrance, and then yours truly and Tom dropped off the ladies and gallantly made the eight mile trek back and forth to the car. Okay, maybe it wasn’t eight miles, but they use kilometers here, so it’s very confusing.
Carolyn never would’ve been saved like Rapunzel because she wears her hair a little shorter.
This is called the Wall Walk of Death. Well, maybe only I call it that. I was happy to take the picture from below. Especially after I saw the sign that said, “It’s been <8> days since the last tourist fell off this wall.” It was in Portuguese, but I’m pretty sure that’s what it said.
She’s like, “Oh, c’mon, it’s nothing. You’d have to be just one foot to the left and stumble a little, but the flight down would be lovely right up until the very end!”
The different colors were from different times when the castle was built. But I think the king just wanted to match the colors of crayons his kids used in their Disney coloring book.
This gargoyle looks like me before I’ve had my morning coffee. Oh wait, I don’t drink coffee. Okay, this is me all of the time.
They wore very, very big hats back then.
Okay, not really. It was actually the world’s smallest prison cell, albeit with the world’s greatest prison cell view!
Carolyn ponders which parts of this decor she’ll copy for our new home.
Marta, Carolyn, and the Gargoyle are clearly enjoying their day.
We were fortunate enough to have an extremely beautiful day for this visit. I kept trying to hide from the sun because, being from Oregon and all, it frightens me.
There’s a whole section of incredible views at the end of this page. I put them all together in one slide show for those of you who hate pictures of scenic views. You just have to endure this one.
This may be hard to believe, but this is all painted, not engraved. Even in person, it was very difficult to tell that it was painted. All of it. Seriously.
Oops, I accidentally copied a picture of the dining table from our new house in here and I can’t figure out how to delete it. Oh well, you can see we will have plenty of room for guests!
I think I look like King Henry VIII ready to sit down to dinner. He was so-named because of the number of chairs at his dining table.
The view of the palace as you approach.
As you keep approaching, you keep snapping pictures. Trust me, you’re not seeing nearly all the ones we took. A very cool place, to be sure.
Okay, this is the last shot from below. It may have been the bluest sky I’ve ever seen.
Marta is an expert group-selfie taker.
The Moorish Castle on top, the Lesserish buildings on the bottom.
The kitchen in the palace. You could roast a donkey in some of those pots, which is where the phrase, “ass over teakettle” originated.
I wonder why we don’t do ceilings like this anymore?
This artist misunderstood the words, “The Baptist,” thinking they sounded like “Dubupptisty,” which meant “cross-dresser” in his language.
Take a gander at this ceiling!


And now, twelve separate scenic views gleaned from our visit. Much more impressive in person. I would never grow tired of seeing views like this. Must’ve been great to be king!

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One thought on “Journey to the Cintra of the Earth

  1. Great stuff. Beautiful pictures, awesome commentary. I’m sure you got punched a lot once Carolyn read it! Me, on the other hand, I’ll save you one swift kick in the ass when we visit next year!


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