12 Fascinating Pena Palace Facts You Should Know

Pena Palace situated in Sintra, Portugal is a majestic wonder built on top of São Pedro de Penaferrim, providing a picturesque view of the town below. The palace’s colorful exterior and intricate interiors lend it a unique charm. 

Nestled in the lap of the Sintra Mountains, this exquisite palace romanticizes fantasies and deports one to a wonderland. On this page, readers can find information regarding Pena Palace facts.

12 Interesting Pena Palace Facts

Palace's Colorful Exterior

1. The Palace's Colorful Exterior

 The polychromatic Pena Palace looks like a fantasyland atop the Sintra Mountains. Painted in bright yellow and crimson red coupled with shades of blue tiles, a deep cornflower blue rooftop, and a light white stone ledge, it’s one of the most romantic monuments to exist. 

The Islamic twist inspired by cornflower blue tiles with a tinge of yellow periwinkle makes it gaze-worthy. This palace is the perfect amalgamation of Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, Neo-Moorish, and Islamic styles. This dreamy palace is reminiscent of the extravagant castle of Ludwig of Bavaria.

Palace's Origins as a Monastery

2. The Palace's Origins as a Monastery

The history of the Pena Palace can be traced back to the Middle ages. When a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Pena was built on top of the Sintra Mountains, King John II and Queen Leonor pilgrimed to this site in 1493 fulfilling a vow.

Later on, King Manuel I was equally fond of this sanctuary so he instructed the erection of a monastery on the site that was donated to the Order of Saint Jerome. For quite some time, Pena was a cozy place housing at most 18 monks at once.

Palace's Transformation

3. The Palace's Transformation by King Ferdinand II

The monastery at Pena was damaged by severe lightning in the 18th Century followed by the Great Lisbon Earthquake in 1755 that turned the monastery into shambles. In 1838, King consort Ferdinand II, bought the chapel, nearby land, the Castle of the Moors, and a few other estates as deemed apt.

He then enlisted German engineer, Baron Wilhelm von Eschwege, to begin transforming the ruins into the most romantic and artistic summer stay for the royal Portuguese family. The King refurbished the palace by replacing 14 monk cells with larger rooms covering them with ribbed vaults.

Palace's Romanticism Architecture Style
Palace's Interior Design and Furnishings

5. The Palace's Interior Design and Furnishings

The Pena Palace is a masterpiece that was designed with precision in a decade. The entrance is decorated with spheres with its arch displaying interlacing serpents. The interiors of the palace were designed mostly in Victorian and Edwardian Styles.

The Great Hall or the Billiards Room is the largest space in the Pena Palace, and the gold-plated brass 72-candle chandelier, 4 petroleum lamps, and torch-holder candelabras reveal its Gothic style. The kitchen comprises all kinds of utensils and culinary equipment and the stained glass of the chapel reveals artistic intentions and political legitimacy.

Palace's Surrounding Gardens and Landscapes

6. The Palace's Surrounding Gardens and Landscapes

Parque de Pena or Park Pena is a lush green forest that is home to numerous species of plants from across the world. It is spread across 200 hectares of bumpy terrain and the park is a labyrinth of paths and narrow roads leading to exciting points in the park.

King Ferdinand II applied the laws of romanticism to the park equally well. Exquisite plants such as North American Sequoia, Lawson’s Cypress, Magnolia, Western Redcedar, Chinese Ginkgo, Japanese Cryptomeria, and a wide variety of ferns and tree ferns from Australia and New Zealand adorn the park.

Palace's Use as a Summer Residence

7. The Palace's Use as a Summer Residence

The Palace was built only as a summer residence for the monarchs. However, King Ferdinand II extended it into a boutique palace comprising huge spacious rooms, towers, a drawbridge, parapet paths, and an access tunnel.

The positioning of the palace and the surroundings made it a perfect escape during the summers. After King Ferdinand II, Carlos I and his Queen resided in the Pena Palace but only for a partial summer and then moved to the Citadel of Cascais. Prince Manuel II, the successor of Carlos I, also resided in the Pena Palace.

Palace's Role in Portuguese History

8. The Palace's Role in Portuguese History

The Pena Palace, one of the seven wonders of Portugal, is simply mesmerizing. With its rich history, from a chapel to a monastery to a Disney-like castle, the Pena Palace became the National Monument of Portugal in 1910.

The Pena Palace was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. In 2013, the National Palace of Pena became a member of the European Royal Residence Network. In 2020, the Pena Park and the Pena Palace were integrated into the European Route of Historic Gardens, becoming one of the 40 Certified Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe.

Portuguese Tourism

9. The Palace's Role in Portuguese Tourism

Portugal’s national income depends heavily upon the tourism industry. Anyone visiting Sintra has the Pena Palace on their bucket list. The Pena Palace has an average footfall of around 18 to 20 million people every year.

The Pena Palace and the Pena Park attract and invite people to buy their tickets in advance and experience its magnificence hassle-free. The National Palace of Pena has been conserved and restored multiple times to preserve its romanticism and its scintillating beauty. One can enjoy this scenic beauty all by oneself or can be accompanied by a tour guide.

Palace's Appearance in Pop Culture

10. The Palace's Appearance in Pop Culture

The palace got its first taste of pop culture in 2010 when the Mexico Embassy inaugurated the Garden of Mexico. In 2011, the Chalet and Garden of Condessa d'Edla were inaugurated with an open concert in which the Countess sang arias. After recovery, the Rose Garden in Monserrate Park was inaugurated by Their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales, and The Duchess of Cornwall.

In 2017, the first virtual Portuguese-produced video mapping concert was projected on the exterior facade of the National Palace of Queluz. In 2021, the Lagos e Fontes route was inaugurated along with the revision of the hydraulic system, which allowed for the rehabilitation of the scenic effect of the games of water characteristic of eighteenth-century gardens.

Haunted Legends and Supernatural Stories

11. The Palace's Haunted Legends and Supernatural Stories

The Pena Palace has a long series of stories. The castle was built on the site of a medieval chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary called ‘Our Lady of Pena’. Due to the apparition of the Virgin Mary, this site gained religious importance.

To honor the call of the Virgin Mary, the chapel was built on the hill, subsequently, many pilgrims visited the palace. Due to its magnificence, the King decided to build a sanctuary, a building of a monastery that was later donated to the Order of Saint Jerome. The monastery witnessed damages due to natural calamities after which it was transformed into The Pena Palace.

Palace's Restoration and Preservation Efforts

12. The Palace's Restoration and Preservation Efforts

The Pena Palace fell to despair after the death of Queen Amelie in 1951. In 2000, Parques de Sintra undertook the work for constant restoration and renovation of the palace. In 2007, the management of the Pena Palace was entrusted to Parques de Sintra.

The restoration of the Palace of Monserrate in 2010 was helped by the EEA Grants fund. The Chalet and Garden of Condessa d'Edla reopened in 2011 after the restoration and recovery process was complete. In 2012, the Pena Palace recovered its vibrant colors and in 2014, the Great Hall of Pena was inaugurated after 3 years of the restoration process.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Pena Palace Facts

What is the Pena Palace?

The Pena Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the seven wonders of Portugal is a castle in São Pedro de Penaferrim standing majestically atop the Sintra Mountains.

What is the most interesting fact about Pena Palace?

The most notable feature of the Pena Palace happens to be the sundial cannon on the Queen’s terrace. The cannon fired daily at noon.

Where is Pena Palace?

The Pena Palace is located in Sintra, Portugal.

When was the Pena Palace built?

The construction of the Pena Palace took place between 1842 and 1854, although it was almost complete in 1847, King Ferdinand and Queen Maria II delayed its completion on decoration and symbolism matters.

When did the Pena Palace open?

A romanticist castle of the Sintra Mountains, the Pena Palace, opened in the year 1854 majorly for the summer residence of monarchs and their families.

Who built Pena Palace?

The Pena Palace was constructed by the German amateur architect and mining engineer Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege under the tutelage of King Ferdinand II.

What is the architectural style of the Pena Palace?

The Pena Palace is a medley of Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, Neo-Moorish, and Islamic styles which lends it the Romanticism it possesses.

What is the significance of the Pena Palace in Portuguese history?

The Pena Palace has been the National Palace of Portugal since 1910. It is also one of the seven wonders of Portugal and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

What are the notable features of the Pena Palace interior and exterior?

The interiors of the Palace are marked by wonderful stucco and Trompe-l'oeil-painted walls. The scenic and flamboyant Pena Palace has richly colorful terraces and decorative battlements as its exterior.