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Sintra
The Town & Palaces

Portugal > Tourism > Lisbon > Sintra > The Town & Palaces
During the Moorish domination there was built (or enlarged) the Moorish Castle (Castelo dos Mouros), perched on the crest of the Serra (alt. 450 m), and also, in the area called "Chão de Oliva", now Vila Velha (Old Town), the residence of the Moorish princes that was the origin of the Paço Real (Royal Palace). After the Christian Reconquest - Sintra surrendered to the army of Dom Afonso Henriques in 1147, a few days after Lisbon had been taken - the Portuguese king granted a franchise to the thirty inhabitants of the oppidum of the Castle (1154).

In the reign of Dom Dinis (1279-1325) the town was donated to the Sainted Queen Isabel. Great works took the palace in enlarging the Royal Palace and the life of Sintra was given new impulse. After the crisis of 1383-1385, the town was granted new statutes giving it autonomy and then began its golden age. At the start of the 16th Century, King Manuel ordered further amplification and decoration;this being accompanied by the literary and cultural burgeoning that was increasingly inspired by the Renaissance. According to a tradition, of which there is no proof, Luís de Camões even read the original of his epic poem The Lusiads in a wing of the Royal Palace, to King Sebastião on the eve of his ill-fated Moroccan expedition. The 16th Century was in fact, for Sintra, a flourishing period and a centre of decision -taking.

But it was above all in the 19th Century, with Romanticism, that the region was rediscovered and recovered in international terms. Romantic artists such as William Beckford (1787) and Lord Byron (1811) sang its unsurpassable beauty, engravers such as William Burnett (1830-1837) immortalised the most significant parts of the countryside, men of sensitivity like King Fernando II lent impulse to planned afforestation of the Serra de Sintra and helped the construction of sumptuous revivalist buildings such as the Palácio da Pena.
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The Town & Palaces
Sintra