The Cultural Landscape of Sintra is located in Portugal’s central region, at the extreme west of the Iberian Peninsula and a few kilometres away from the Atlantic Ocean. This Cultural Landscape is an exceptional mixture of natural and cultural sites within a distinct framework. Seen from a distance, it gives the impression of an essentially natural landscape that is distinct from its surroundings: a small chain of forested granite mountains rising over the hilly rural landscape. When seen from closer at hand, the Serra reveals a surprisingly rich cultural evidence spanning over several centuries of Portugal’s history.
Cultural Landscape of Sintra
This cultural landscape is an extraordinary and unique complex of parks, gardens, palaces, country houses, monasteries and castles, which create an architecture that harmonizes with the exotic and overgrown vegetation, creating micro-landscapes of exotic and luxuriant beauty. This amalgamation of exotic styles changes the landscape into an abundant world which offers surprises at every turn in the path, leading the visitor from a discovery to another. Its uniqueness and botanical richness presented to the visitor with great accuracy, and its charming environment make it unique among landscapes. This syncretism between nature and ancient monuments, villas, monasteries and chalets influenced the development of landscape architecture throughout Europe.
Regarding the Park of Pena its a vast area (85 ha.) spread over the highest points of the Serra de Sintra. Originally a convent (founded in 1503), it was transformed by King Ferdinand II, king consort to the Queen Maria II. From 1840 onwards, King Ferdinand began to build the Palace of Pena and the surrounding forests and gardens. The gardened areas contain important collections of Camellias, Tree Ferns, Conifers and areas of natural vegetation whilst the arboretum contains impressive individual specimens of Cryptomeria japonica, Sequoia sempervirens, Thuya plicata and various species of Abies.
Chalet da Condessa
From 1910 the park was administered by the Portuguese national forest service and there are extensive trial plantings of forest species. Currently undergoing extensive restoration work is a section of the park known as the “Chalet da Condessa.” Here the gardens are of a gardenesque character and contain a tremendous population of tree ferns, camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons.