National Palace and Museum, Sintra

National Palace and Museum, Sintra (must see)

Of all the palaces in Portugal, only one spans the whole history of the country: the National Palace of Sintra. The earliest date of construction is not clear but it is probably in the 10th or 11th century when the country was still under Moorish control. The palace is actually a complex of buildings adapted and added to over time.

The palace is known to have the most extensive collection of Mudéjar artifacts and Azulejo tiles in the world. Long after the reconquest of Sintra by Afonso Henriques in 1139, King Dinis proclaimed in 1281 that the maintenance of the palace should be the responsibility of the enfranchised Moors residing there.

In 1415 King John I constructed the main body of the palace complex around the central courtyard, called John's Wing. The facade of the main building has entrance arches and mullioned bifora windows in Manueline and Mudejar styles. The building has twin giant conical chimneys towering above enormous medieval kitchens.

Besides the circus-sized kitchens, King John I installed several rooms. The Swan Room has swans painted on the ceiling, celebrating the marriage of Philip the Good of Burgundy to his third wife, Isabela of Portugal.

The Magpie room has dozens of magpies painted on the ceiling and the frieze. The birds carry the message "For Good" in their beaks. The number of Magpies equaled the number of ladies of the court. The ladies had been gossiping about John stealing a kiss from a lady-in-waiting. He got his revenge by having the gossipers painted as chattering magpies.

Other rooms, from the reign of King Manuel I, include the Coat of Arms Room in the Manuel's Wing. The room has a coffered wooden ceiling with the coats of arms of 72 noble families of Portugal. The Golden Chamber was a receiving room for royalty. The Grotto of the Baths is covered in tile pictures of the Creation.

The palace was declared a National Monument in 1910 and a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995. The palace opens daily from 9:30 am to 7 pm.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Sintra. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

National Palace and Museum on Map

Sight Name: National Palace and Museum
Sight Location: Sintra, Portugal (See walking tours in Sintra)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Sintra, Portugal

Create Your Own Walk in Sintra

Create Your Own Walk in Sintra

Creating your own self-guided walk in Sintra is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Sintra Introduction Walking Tour

Sintra Introduction Walking Tour

Traces of humanity in Sintra date back to Paleolithic times. At an open air site near the church of Sao Pedro de Canaferrim and the Moorish Castle there were found ceramics from 5,000 BC. The name Sintra is indo-European. It means "bright star" or "sun." Romans called the place "sacred mountain." Ptolemy called it "mountains of the moon."

In 1147 the...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 Km or 1.2 Miles
Pena Palace and Moorish Castle Tour

Pena Palace and Moorish Castle Tour

A charming little township on the outskirts of Lisbon, Sintra is a place where there's something for everyone. As if straight out of a fairy tale, this area is a home to several magnificent castles, palaces and gardens, the grandiosity of which fits for a king; and it has been a firm favorite of Portuguese royals since the late 15th century.

The diversity of styles found here is rich –...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles