top of page

Sintra the Fairy village where the Portuguese Kings rested before spending their holidays in Cascais

Castelo dos Mouros - The photo was by Google search all rights to its author.

Sintra is a village located near Lisbon, I have always called it the Fairytale village.

The oldest form of the name, Suntria, points to the Indo-European luminous star or sun. It was named by Varro (Varro) and Columela as the Sacred Mount. Ptolemy recorded it as the Mountain of the Moon. Later, the Arab geographer Abu Ubaide Abdalá Albacri, in the 10th century, described Sintra as "permanently immersed in a mist that does not dissipate".

Its territory is very heterogeneous, with its coastal and northern parishes still of forest and rural characteristics, in contrast to the urbanized parishes in the south that have developed as a result of better accessibility and proximity to the capital. Of these, the IC16 and IC19, the Sintra Line and, to a lesser extent, the West Line stand out for their relevance.

The highest point in the municipality, which is also that of the metropolitan area, is in Pena, on the Serra de Sintra, and rises to 528 meters. Around it are platforms no higher than 200 meters, crossed by several streams that mark the landscape.

The town of Sintra is notable for its romantic architecture, resulting in its classification as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has refused to be elevated to city status, despite being the seat of the second most populous Council in Portugal.

Marta our driver guide from [Photos kindly hosted by YourTuk]

I went to the Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish Castle), in a Tuk Tuk, driven by an excellent professional, Marta, who knew all the holes and imperfections of the serpentine road, so characteristic of the Sintra Mountains where, in the past, it was the delight of Rally drivers. Every hole was avoided, every bump was warned by her, stopping at a curve where the famous "Chalet Biester" is located, the house where Roman Polanski shot a horror movie and Johnny Depp shot scenes for the movie "The Ninth Gate". Then we drove to the gates of the Moorish Castle, where after buying the entrance tickets we enjoyed every inch of the magnificent landscape and realized how important this fortress was for the Moors and why they had to conquer it. If you are visiting Lisbon, you can't miss the Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish Castle) or the Palácio da Pena (Pena Palace).

[Photos kindly hosted by YourTuk]

The castle was constructed during the 8th and 9th centuries, during the period of Muslim Iberia, as the central place in a territory that was primarily agricultural, and which was necessary to protect its population.

In 1031, after the loss of Córdoba to the Almoravid dynasty, the King of Badajoz opted to transfer to Alfonso VI of León and Castile a few territories on the Iberian Peninsula (among them Sintra) in order to gain an alliance with the Christian King. This transfer did not result in any security, and the castle was lost to the invading Almoravid.

[All Photos Credit: Mgmeia]

After the conquest of Lisbon (1147) by forces loyal to Dom Afonso Henriques, the castle surrendered voluntarily to Christian forces. Dom Afonso Henriques entrusted the castle's security to 30 inhabitants, granting them privileges in the foral (charter) signed by the monarch in 1154. The charter suggested that settlers should occupy and inhabit the castle, as a mechanism for guaranteeing the region's security and development.

During the second half of the 12th century, the chapel constructed within the walls of the castle became the parish seat. This was followed by the remodelling and construction under the initiative of King Dom Sancho I of Portugal.

In 1375 King Dom Fernando I of Portugal, under the counsel of João Annes de Almada, ordered the rebuilding of the castle. While the structure was well fortified by 1383, its military importance was progressively diminishing as, more and more, the inhabitants were abandoning the castle for the old village of Sintra.

[The photos was by Google search all rights to its author]

In the center of the city we can enjoy some museums, such as the old toy museum several street craftsmen with their exhibits. In June this year (2022) the Medieval Fair of Sintra returned, with the patronage of the Sintra Town Council. And of course we couldn't forget to eat the beautiful Travesseiro de Sintra, an ex-libris of the town of Sintra and made famous by "Piriquita", an ancient bakery of Sintra founded in 1862. But to talk about the Travesseiros, we can't forget the other Sintra specialty, which was so popular in the football stadiums in Lisbon. The origin of the sweet is lost in medieval times in the town of Sintra, as it served as a form of payment, called Queijada de Sintra, and you can find the best Queijada de Sintra in "Casa do Preto", an house open since 1931.

[The photo was by Google search all rights to its author]

So besides the beautiful town we can also delight ourselves with these cakes. If you don't know where they are, ask Marta to take you there, because she certainly knows!

Thank you Marta for a great day.

Text Author: Mário Granado - Mgmeia Founder CEO & Chairman

143 views0 comments