Park and Palace of Monserrate Review – A Favorite Sintra Spot

One of the garden views from inside a palace foyer

 

Central Gallery in the palace

 

View up the hill to the palace from the gardens below

 

Have we the chance to visit Sintra again, The Park and Palace of Monserrate beg for a longer linger. 

 

Monserrate's diverse gardens encompass 33 hectares of land

 

The vast velvet green lawn in front of the palace is green all year-- and continuously mowed and maintained

 

Better yet, how idyllic it would be to catch one of the musical performances in the palace’s Music Hall, or perhaps a movie on its lawn.

 

The gardens had been abandoned for half a century, until Parques de Sintra began their renovation in 2000

 

You find plant species from all over the world that have been brought to Monserrate and habituated to its microclimate

 

You will see cork trees on this land that have never had their cork bark removed

 

As you walk the winding paths in the 33 hectare gardens, you feel that you are on roads that have been there since antiquity. 

 

A hologram of Sir Francis Cook greets you to begin the palace tour

 

That’s just how the Romantic-era inspired one-time owner and last developer of Monserrate, Sir Francis Cook, would have you feel. 

 

With romantic imagination, Sir Francis Cook removed the ceilings and walls of this garden structure. His grandson added the banyan tree that gives it a very Siem Reap feel

 

The Mexican Garden has cacti and other flora familiar to Americans who know the deserts of the Southwest. Photo: Wilson Pereira, PSML

 

Actually though, this castle had been in disrepair and the gardens overgrown until 2000, when the Portuguese government began the ongoing restorations that you still see going on now.

 

We were impressed by how the heat from the kitchen stove was captured to help heat the entire palace

 

Vathek's Arch-- said to be the one-time entrance

 

Paths take you past an array of gardens (Rose, Mexican, Japanese) and past ornamental lakes and waterfalls

 

Originally a neo-Gothic structure, 19th Century add-ons of Indian and Moorish influences by Sir Francis Cook created the eclectic Romantic structure it is today. 

 

Looking down on a fountain in a central palace area

 

Poetry enthusiasts should note that Lord Byron sang the praises of this property in “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage”.  This has made it a more popular spot for British tourists, and not very long ago Prince Charles and Lady Bowles were here to plant the first roses in the recently restored Rose Garden. 

 

Tree ferns, holly, Norfolk Island pines, and other plants familiar to North Americans are found in the gardens

 

About-to-be brides and grooms can rent this romantic palace for their wedding.

 

The tree ferns and brooks create a micro climate in which exotic trees from New Zealand and Australia can thrive

 

Every third Sunday the Music Room hosts concerts for babies.  (Note:  Book ahead.)

 

A waterfall and brook provide a gravity powered natural irrigation system

 

For more event schedules and visit details see the Parque de Sintra website pages on Monserrate

 

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Photos:  Peter Kachergis, unless otherwise indicated

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