Sintra: The First Center of European Romantic Architecture

Sintra Portugal.

The Pena Palace is a Romanticist castle in São Pedro de Penaferrim, in the municipality of Sintra, on the Portuguese Riviera. (Image: Olga Lupol via Dreamstime)

Some places make us ravel in amazement at the architecture around us. Sintra, the first center of European Romantic architecture, does just this as its municipality lives and breathes in another light.

If there is one luxury in the world that should be aspired by everyone is the luxury to travel. Traveling to different places opens your eyes to the world, your heart to new experiences, and your mind to new ideas.

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Suppose you’re planning your next vacation or are at least curious about the different architectural wonders of the world. In that case, this article will reveal what’s behind the beauty of Sintra, the first of European Romantic architecture.

One way to acquire wisdom is to travel; this way, you will learn not just about your world but the world around you.

What is romantic architecture?

Romantic architecture follows strong emotions as a source of aesthetics. These emotions are then amplified by different shapes and forms that go around the building, into details, or the entirety of the building itself.

When people think about romantic architecture, they sometimes only think about positive emotions, but this type of architecture can revolve around much more than happiness.

Symmetry and proportions, along with uniqueness, are used in romantic architecture to convey strong emotions. These emotions can revolve not just around wonder, but also fear and horror.

The Palace of Sintra, also called Town Palace, is an example of romantic architecture.
The Palace of Sintra, also called Town Palace, is located in the town of Sintra, in the Lisbon District of Portugal. (Image: Sean Pavone via Dreamstime)

Where is Sintra

Sintra is located in the central Portugal region, a few miles away from the Atlantic Ocean. As a result, the landscape is a mixture of cultural sites and nature blended distinctly.

As seen from a distance, the architecture does not engulf nature but instead lives among it. Sintra is located in the Lisbon District of Portugal.

The cultural landscape of Sintra exists in a place surrounded by tranquility, which remains the reason it became the home of its romantic architecture in the first place.

The history of Sintra

Its true beginning happened in 1374 when a group of monks founded the Trinity Covent of the Arrabalde in the valley of the Serra. The hermitage remained primitive until it was replaced by an actual monastery in 1400.

The monastery had to be reconstructed a century later, in 1500, and in 1755, an earthquake occurred, resulting in many of the structural elements having to be rebuilt.

Luckily, the more modern structure has retained elements dating from 1570, including the tranquility that first caught the eye of the monks.

The modern beginning of its romantic architecture happened in 1840 when Ferdinand II decided to transform a ruined monastery into a castle. The castle displayed elements of Gothic, Egyptian, Moorish, and Renaissance designs.

The Monserrate Palace is a palatial villa located near Sintra, the traditional summer resort of the Portuguese court in the foothills overlooking the Atlantic Ocean north of the capital, Lisbon. (Image: Jorisvo via Dreamstime)

The palace was surrounded by a massive park where exotic trees were planted, fountains and watercourses were built, and a series of cottages, ponds, chapels, and mock ruins were set up.

The forests of Serra were also restored, with thousands of trees planted to create a solid cultural landscape. Work around the park covered 210 hectares, including the Tapada do Mocho and the Moorish castle enclosed by stone walls.

Shortly after its success, other homes were built around the esteemed castle, adding to its landscape’s beauty. 

This UNESCO World Heritage site covers a range of 946 hectares and is surrounded by an even larger 3,641-hectare buffer zone.

The park has remained under the protection of national legislation ever since 1994. Therefore, the Cultural Landscape of Sintra remains vital to the National Natural Park of Sintra.

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