Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Palacio da Pena

A week or so ago, I posted photos of Sintra, taken from up on the ruins of the Moorish castle.  When I finished looking down and to the north at Sintra, I turned to the south and looked up at this place - the Palace of Pena (pronounced "Penya") which was the summer home of the last king of Portugal.

To get to Penya, you can drive almost all the way to the top, or you can park part way up and walk along a path that leads through the Valley of the Lakes.  As you walk along, you get occasional glimpses of the castle, looming above you.

Zoe considers walking a form of torture.  Her feet began to hurt at the mere suggestion of visiting the palace.  Still, it was a beautiful day for a walk, and you couldn't have asked for a more interesting location.

Here's a view of the Moorish castle, located on a peak just below the Palacio da Pena.  I'm working on a large painting of this view right now.  I'll post it soon.
Here's a view of the palace.  It's so big and goes off in so many directions that I had to stitch 4 or 5 photos together for this picture. 
Everywhere you look, there are odd architectural features borrowed from other places and times.  This dome, like a lot of other parts of the palace, is covered with the ceramic tiles for which Portugal is famous.  In the background, you can see the fog (lovingly referred to as "the Queen's fart") rolling in.  Up on this range of peaks, the temperature is usually a good 10 degrees cooler than in the valley and along the coast, and often from a distance, the whole area is obscured by a thick grey blanket of cloud.
There are lots of architectural references to the sea and seafaring, from which Portugal derived its power.  This decoration above the door into the ballroom is a Poseidon-kind-of-guy in a scallop shell.  The rough-textured part below him, which goes from the top of the door arch to the ground, is all shaped like coral.
Here's a view of one of the gates you pass through in order to enter the palace.

And here's a promenade that overlooks the valley. It gives a spectacular view from the royal living quarters, which were originally a monastary.

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