Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Moorish Castle of Sintra

They say there is a castle in the sky. Well I am not sure if anyone has said that but I like the Hayao Miyazaki film and visiting the Moorish Castle in Sintra definitely makes you feel like you're in the sky.  

I headed to Sintra on the train from Rossio Station. I should have just gone to the ticket window and purchased a ticket but I decided I would do it for myself. For some reason my zapping card said it was full so I just got a new one with a return ticket to Lisbon on it. It cost €5.00 so it would have been €4.50 if I had not had to get another zap card. The train ride if 40 minutes and is really easy. Rossio is the station you get on at and Sintra is the last stop on the line. Leaving the packed train, I exited the station and hurried towards the 434 bus to take the Pena Circuit for €5.00 which would take me up the hills to the Moorish Castle and back down again. First on the bus, I snagged a seat but sadly had to wait about ten more minutes for everyone else to get on the bus.

Winding up and up through Sintra, the bus making a series of crazy hairpin turns for a bus. Once having to reverse so it could turn enough to get around a corner. I would not want to be driving car through here let alone a bus so kudos to the driver. Reaching the Moorish Castle entrance, I paid €8.00 to get inside and happily wandered along the marked path. Coming across a seemingly friendly cat. I stepped to pet it. All was going well until it decided to turn on me. No thanks. Departing quickly from the feline, I continued up to where the walls of the castle started. Along the way I admired all the big rocks. It sounds silly but I was pretty impressed with the rocks.

Starting to climb the wall, I looked over and saw the other side of the wall and had to take in the size of it. I'm no expert on castles but these walls were very impressive. I climbed higher and higher, thinking that the stairs at Primark had prepared me for this day. One of the things that amazed me about the castle was that there were no safety railings. Nothing to stop someone from losing their footing and falling to their death. I am generally not afraid of heights but I had to hold on to the stones a few times when the wind got strong.

The views of the surrounding countryside and the National Palace of Sintra were amazing. Felt like I was on top of the world, or at least Sintra. Admiring the views, the sunshine and making use of the selfie function of my new camera as I snapped away.

The Moorish Castle is a military fort built around the 10th century by the Muslim populations that occupied the Iberian peninsula. It acted as a control tower for the Atlantic coast and land to the north, serving as an outpost for the city of Lisbon.

The beautiful Pena Palace below. Her stunning colours look a bit dull here but my last time to Sintra was spent roaming the gardens, horse riding and enjoying the inside of the palace.

Running out of walls to climb, I headed back down to the bus stop to take it down to Sintra. I really enjoyed the Moorish Castle and was glad I got to get back to Sintra to enjoy it. I highly recommend doing it with the Pena Palace if you have time. The Pena Palace is very big so you should allow yourself a lot of time to explore it. They are the closest to each other so are easy to access. I would recommend also the Quinta da Regaleira which is amazing and closer to the historical centre of Sintra. That place is like a magical land with inverted towers, tunnels, caves and lakes. 

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