Sintra National Palace is one of the palaces that draw our attention when we arrive in Sintra. It’s located in the old town so it is easy to get there
Don’t confuse this palace, with Pena Palace or with Queluz National Palace (in Sintra there are plenty of palaces). Sintra National Palace distinguishes itself by two conical structures protruding from the ceiling.
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Plan your visit to Sintra National Palace.
Sintra National Palace is visible from several points of the city. We arrived walking from the train station in about 10 minutes. You can visit it just arriving in Sintra or leave it until the end.
We chose to leave it for the end on our day trip to Sintra before returning to the train station. If you want to know what to see in a day in Sintra and how to get there from Lisbon, click on the link.
Prices and opening time.
The palace opens at 9:30 and closes at 7:00 p.m., The last hour of access is at 6:30 p.m. On Thursdays it’s closed.
The price for adults is €10, but there are some reductions for children, young people, and seniors. You can check these prices on the official site of Sintra parks.
You can also get some discounts if you buy combined tickets for the parks and palaces in Sintra.
The National Palace is also known as Palácio da Vila. In the 11th century, there was already a primitive fortress built under Muslim control.
After the conquest of Lisbon by King Afonso Henriques, it became part of the Portuguese crown. It has been renovated and expanded many times to have that look we see today in the 16th century.
It has mainly an Arabic architectural style. Yet, it has additions inspired by the Gothic, Manueline and Renaissance styles.
The interesting thing about this palace is that each room was built adapting to the different heights and conditions of the surface. This type of architecture is known as organic because although the construction is not symmetrical, it’s part of a whole.
It has served both to house the royal family in different periods or to receive important guests. Currently, cultural events of access to the public are held.
How long to stay in the Palace
We did the tour in an hour or so. Unlike other palaces in Sintra, this one doesn’t have large gardens and woods so it will take you a short time to see it complete.
That is why you can leave it for the end of your visit considering the closing time and the time for touring. Although in winter is not advisable to enter when it’s getting dark because you’ll not enjoy it the same.
It was just what happened to us. We had to rush a little because it was getting dark and we felt the pressure to return to Lisbon.
Touring Sintra National Palace
The visit to the Palace begins with the Archers’ room where the royal guard was located.
Continue with the Hall of swans, named for the swans that decorate the roof. It was built during the government of King João I. They celebrated banquets and receptions in this room.
Then you access the Central Patio that has a twisted sculpture in the middle. The Arab influence in this patio is quite noticeable. On one side there is a small room covered with blue and white tiles called the Water Grotto.
Following the tour, we entered the Magpie Room. It is so called because on the roof there are about 136 panels with birds holding the D. João I badge in its beak. The function of this room was to receive foreign ambassadors. Its walls are covered with beautiful Mudejar style mosaics.
Then we went to King Sebastião’s room. In this room, besides the large red bed, there’s a celestial globe made of gilded copper by Christoph Schissler the Elder in 1575.
Other rooms that stand out are the Arab Room, the Chinese or Pagoda Room, the Blazons Hall, and the kitchen. The Arab Room was probably King João’s bedroom. This room features a fountain in the center.
I found the kitchen interesting because there are few palaces’ kitchens open to the public and so well preserved. It’s also here where the 33 m high conical chimneys (giving that peculiar look to the palace) are found.
Is it a must-see?
The palace is very beautiful inside and well worth the visit, but … compared to all the other beautiful palaces and sites to see in Sintra, this one is at a disadvantage.
The advantage is that the complex is not very large and you can tour it in a short time. you can stay as long as you want inside, nobody will take you out, but it’s possible to see it in an hour or so. But paying €10 euros seems a bit expensive for me.
If you decide to enter it’s convenient to see it slowly and admire the beautiful mosaics in its walls, the panels on the ceilings and the details of the architecture. It’s also advisable to take a guided tour to know more about the palace.
If you’ve already seen Palace da Pena, Quinta da Regaleira and Castelo dos Mouros, then you should visit it. But if you are short on time and it’s your first visit to Sintra, then it’s not essential. The same if you are traveling on a tight budget.
In my case, I visited it when it was already getting dark, in winter and after a bad experience with the tuk-tuk. Also, my camera’s battery charge was low and I only had my mobile’s camera.
Check out my recommendations to visit Sintra to know what happened with the tuk-tuk
In short, with all those setbacks, I didn’t enjoy it much, but it is a beautiful palace that I don’t regret having seen.
What do you think? Have you already visited Sintra National Palace? and if not, would you like to see its interior? I await your comments and impressions.
Until then and bon voyage!