Monserrate Palace - Sintra
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Located close to the historic center of Sintra which is popular and gets busy from late morning on. It is part of the “Three Palace Tour” and gets even more crowded in summer the holiday season. The best time for a visit is in the morning when they open at 9.30 in the high season and 10 in the low season. Best sunlight for a good shot in the late afternoon!!
Avoiding tourist crowds:
In July and August Sintra is completely crowded. If you want to visit in summer, you should go either early or late in the day. Weekends are even busier, and it might be very difficult to find a parking space. Winter is the best time to avoid masses of tourists coming by bus from Lisbon and swarming around.
My favorite months are May until mid-June and September, less hot and busy mostly with a blue sky. Anyway, this time we came end of December and had 16 degrees in Lisbon which were 13 degrees in Sintra, and it was sunny for several weeks. None of the places were crowded.
High season (end of March until the end of Oct.): 9.30 a.m. until 8 p.m. for the park last admission at 7 p.m. and the palace 7 p.m. last admission 6.15 p.m.
Entrance fee: adult 8 €
Low season (end of Oct. until the end of March): 10.00 a.m. until 6 p.m. for the park last admission at 5 p.m. and the palace 5 p.m. last admission 4.30 p.m.
Entrance fee: adult 6,50 € and family 22 € (2 adults and 2 under 18 years)
You get a 5 % discount when buying tickets online and avoid queuing in the peak season:
Although Sintra has a different climate to Cascais and Lisbon due to the high elevation summer can be very hot with up to 30 degrees. There is mostly a breeze which is convenient in summer but be careful in autumn and winter. Weather is more unpredictable from October to March, and more rain occurs. However, it seldom rains a whole week a view days only. Sintra is frequently covered in fog which let it appear mystic. Often mid to end of December the weather is fine. This told me a hiking guide and friend from PortugalWalkHike
The place itself has a long history which started in 1540. It was a chapel dedicated to “Our Lady of Monserrate” that belonged to the All Saints Hospital of Lisbon. It was destroyed by the terrible earthquake in 1755. It had three builders all from England. The last Francis Cook (1817-1901) a textile millionaire took the ruins of the palace to create the family summer residence.
Monserrate Palace combines Arabic, Gothic and Indian architectural styles and was used as a summer house. It is surrounded by a beautiful garden with plants and trees from around the world. Directly at the palace is a huge New Zealand Christmas Tree (Pohutukawa) which is covered with red flowers in early summer.
Unfortunately, the palace is not furnished except the library. It was emptied of furniture, carpets, paintings, and collections in the middle of the 20th century. In each room is a description and picture how the room was looking like long time ago. At the entrance, you get a map about the palace and the park. Our highlight was the gallery, the corridor connecting the three parts of the palace and the old chapel ruin which is covered with fig trees now. It replaced the former chapel of “Our Lady of Monserrate”.
Sintra is a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1995 and famous to be the first center of European Romantic architecture in the 19th century. The Palace of Monserrate was restored and reopened in 2010.
Schedule up to 2 hours for the self-guided tour through the palace and the huge park.