2 Palaces Around Lisbon

Today we toured two castles and the coastline around Lisbon.    The Castles were a study in contrasts.  One was a summer castle, the other was year round.   One was build four hundred years earlier than the other … and one had a much warmer feel than the other.   In the process we learned a lot about the Portuguese royalty &   royalty in general … not something we are familiar with in America.     Here are photos of the two castles.


The Queluz Palace was used by the royal family until the end of the monarchy. It is still used for government functions and can be rented for weddings or corporate events. The interior was inspired by the French castle of Versailles and was actually designed by the same designer.



The Sintra Palace was built 400 years earlier. It is about 20 miles outside of Lisbon at about 1800 feet elevation in a micro-climate that makes it an ideal summer retreat from the heat. It was also used as an escape from the plagues that went through Europe in the middle ages. The floors & ceilings are wood which gives the warmer feeling of this palace compared to the marble and plaster and tile of the Queluz Palace.



Another shot of the dining room of the Sintra summer palace. I could see having a meal there. Could you? (That’s not a sit down table. It’s a buffet table and otherwise used for displaying objects) (Note: Most of the furniture was gone from both of these castles. When Napoleon was invading the country, the royal family left to Brazil for 14 years, until things cooled down … taking a lot of the furniture with them. Napoleon took the rest.



The Kitchen of the Sintra Palace. Here two complete cows could be roasted. Coals from the fireplaces would be placed under the super sized skewers and turned until done. The Palace and the town have recently been named a UN World Heritage Site.


Since today was a day of comparisons, here is another comparison that was new to us.   The difference between a Caravelle and a Galleon.   They both had specific jobs to do.   Here are some photos from the hand paintings on the walls of the Sintra Palace



Caravelles had 3 masts and 3 triangular sails and a crew of about 30 men. They were very maneuverable and were easy to sail. They were the main tool of the explorer and did most of the first exploration work such as down the coasts of Africa to the Cape of Good Hope and around Cape Horn and up around South America. These were not treasure ships, but were often used to protect Treasure Ships.



Galleons were the “Treasure Ships” that were loaded down with silk, spices, jewels, gold and silver from the New World that were such choice targets of pirates. These ships had square sails and were much larger and required a larger crew of over 100. They were armed with cannons but were not very maneuverable. That’s why they were usually accompanied by Caravelles and travelled in convoys.
A modern comparison would be: Caravelles were pick up trucks … Galleons were the 18 Wheelers that really carried the cargo.



Sofia, our guide, today was knowledgeable and very expressive. The guides have all been very good and really make the tours worthwhile. There is no way we could have learned all that she told us through a tour book.



Is there anything that cant be made out of cork? Probably not. With the modern methods of veneering … very thin layers of cork (a few thousandths of an inch) can be laminated onto hard or soft surfaces. So just about anything that can be made can have a layer of cork applied to it … and get a whole new fashionable look. These are in the shops in Sintra.


Cabo da Roca is the furthest west part of Europe. It also happens to be at the same lattitude as Washington DC. It is on the coast on the way back from Sintra to Lisbon



Maintenance is a problem when you have a lot of 200 to 1200 year old castles and palaces to preserve and show to the public. This photo looks like it might be on a shack in backwoods Appalachia. But it’s on the National Palace. And there are a hundred more doors and 400 more windows in need of the same kind of work. This is where austerity demanded by the bailouts has cut the renovation budget to just about zero.



Lisboners may not have the budget to repair their castles … but they know how to go to the beach! This is fairly cold water (Atlantic) at the mouth of the Tagus River. Most people are just sun bathing, with the kids and some brave should out in the water.


We lunched in Sintra. This was a dish for two with prawns and monkfish in a soup with rice on the side. Excellent. I dont know if dunking that bread in the soup would have been acceptable at a royal banquet but I didn’t see any culture police … and it sure was good!

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