Queen of the Castle

An archaeologist unearths the divine feminine, one archetype at a time...

That's what I felt like as I toured the Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal. In all my fairy tale dreams, this one is pure Disney World.

Lord Byron was inspired to write about Sintra's beauty

"Lo! Cintra's glorious Eden intervenes
In variegated maze of mount and glen.
Ah me! what hand can pencil guide, or pen,
To follow half on which the eye dilates
Through views more dazzling unto mortal ken
Than those whereof such things the bard relates,
Who to the awe-struck world unlocked Elysium's gates?"

The moon goddess Cynthia was worshipped at this site during the Roman period, which may be the root of the name Sintra.

After an apparition of the Virgin Mary in the Middle Ages at the site, a chapel was built on the hill above town. 

A monastery was constructed on the site in the 15th century which was damaged in the massive earthquake of 1755. King Ferdinand II was so entranced by the ruins of the area that he ordered the construction of a royal palace on the site. Commissioned in the 19th century by a German architect in the Romantic era style, it incorporates a vast array of styles, including Islamic and Medieval elements

resulting in the fairy-tale collection of turrets, spires and crenelated walls that dominate the landscape.

You enter through a doorway topped by a fantastic creature - a newt - symbolizing the creation of the world.

The details are exquisite

The views stretch out in every direction. Queen Amelia, wife of Carlos the I, the last king of Portugal, dedicated her efforts to developing the massive grounds that surround the castle, 500 acres knows as the Parque de Pena.

In 1889 the property was purchased by the Portuguese state when the monarchy ended and the royals fled to Brazil. After the revolution of 1910 the castle was transformed into a museum.  

Legend has it that Queen Amalia spent her last night at the castle before being sent into exile. I imagined in the remaining hours of her reign she looked out over the forests and grounds below, taking in her last views of the gardens she so lovingly tended to.


  1. Amazing! That looks one hell of a fairytale place.

  2. I can imagine that Queen Amelia must have felt very sad to leave so much beauty behind.

  3. That image of the newt in the entry *is* exquisitely-detailed.

    What a glorious adventure. I like the Sintra/Cynthia speculation, too.

  4. A wonderful place, and a story well told. Sadly, we don't have that kind of history in North America.

    Blessings and Bear hugs!
    Bears Noting
    Life in the Urban Forest (my poetry blog)

  5. I've never seen a castle like it, strange, wonderful and beautiful.

  6. I never heard about this castle. What a treat, indeed.

  7. You KNOW I adore this Castle! Your photos do it justice - as do your words - conjuring up the all various stages of it's history. I love the photos with you..... gazing out, reliving all the stories in your mind. Queen Amelia - I think you are right...she did stand there....trying to imprint all that beauty into her mind and heart.

    The photo reflecting the stained glass images against the stone walls is mesmerizing.

    I'll return to look at the photos again.....and again..... sigh....


    ♥ Your Romantic-History Loving Twin ♥

  8. That Newt looks like a mischievous fellow!

  9. That is much better than Disney! I love the architecture and the whimsical detailing. It looks like you got fabulous weather for your vacation too. Maybe you'll set a fantasy novel there one day.

  10. so beautiful . THanks for the historical tour.

  11. Very enjoyable! Makes me want to go back to the sun!


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