The natural landscape to the west of Lisbon is fine as well, but the palaces set this area aside as unique.
The UNESCO World Heritage List includes several hundred properties with outstanding universal value. They are all part of the world’s cultural and natural heritage.
Date of Inscription: 1995
Category: Cultural site
UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre’s short description of site no. 723:
“In the 19th century Sintra became the first centre of European Romantic architecture. Ferdinand II turned a ruined monastery into a castle where this new sensitivity was displayed in the use of Gothic, Egyptian, Moorish and Renaissance elements and in the creation of a park blending local and exotic species of trees. Other fine dwellings, built along the same lines in the surrounding serra , created a unique combination of parks and gardens which influenced the development of landscape architecture throughout Europe.”
I visited Sintra in 2013. This is an excerpt from the introduction to my blog entry:
Sintra is a small town to the west of Lisbon, not more than a 40 minute train ride away. The trains leave the Rossio station in the city centre every 15 minutes or so. We used our Lisboa cards here as well. Hence it has become a popular destination for day-trippers from Lisbon. The reason we all go are two-fold: The palaces and the hills.
There are many palaces scattered around in the Sintra area, and one will have a hard time reaching them all. Most tourists will do the same we did: Start at the National Palace in the town centre, take a bus (no 434) uphill to the Moorish castle and then board the same bus further uphill to the fantastic Pena Palace. The bus brings you right back to the station.