On first March, 2015, two classes of the 11th level, 6 students from partner countries, parents of Portuguese students and teachers, visited Natural Parks and Palaces of Pena and Monserrate, guided by an History teacher, writer and Master in Medieval History (Sérgio Carvalho).
The History teacher explains the different architectural influences on the Romanticism period during the nineteenth century in Portugal, the Sintra‘s romantic symbols that can be observed in the parks and palaces of Pena and Monserrate.
He performed an historical review about the Romanticism of the nineteenth century in Portugal, namely, the Manueline and Moorish influence in Pena Palace in contrast to the Gothic, Indian and Moorish influences in Monserrate Palace and the importance that these two monuments had in this epoch.
This was followed by a guided visit to the interior of the monuments and to the gardens with more than 500 arborous species coming from all over the world and organized by geographical areas.
Pena Palace is the most famous building in Sintra. Built in the 1840s, it is one of Europe’s most fantastic palaces. It includes a drawbridge, a conglomeration of turrets, ramparts, and domes, and a gargoyle above a Neo-Manueline arch, all washed in an array of pastel shades. The extravagant interior is decorated in late Victorian and Edwardian furnishings, rich ornaments, paintings, and priceless porcelain preserved just as the royal family left them. Other highlights include the spacious ballroom, the marvelous “Arab Room”, and an impressive 16th-century chapel altarpiece (part of an original convent founded to celebrate the first sight of Vasco da Gama’s returning fleet).
Surrounding the palace is the mystical Pena Park, filled with a variety of trees and exotic plants from the former colonies of the Portuguese empire, ponds, fountains, and black swans.
Monserrate Palace was designed by the architects Thomas James Knowles (father and son) and built in 1858, having been commissioned by Sir Francis Cook, Viscount of Monserrate.
This palace, the Cook family’s summer residence, was constructed on the ruins of the neo-Gothic mansion built by the English merchant, Gerard de Visme, who built the first Palace of Monserrate. William Beckford leased the property in 1793, carrying out works on the palace and starting to create a landscape garden.
It was Francis Cook, the first Viscount of Monserrate, who, together with the landscape painter William Stockdale, the botanist William Nevill and the master gardener James Burt, created the contrasting scenarios that are to be found in the park, where narrow winding footpaths intertwine amongst ruins, nooks and crannies, waterfalls and lakes, in what, at first sight, seems to be an apparently disordered fashion.
Spontaneously growing species from Portugal (arbutus-trees, holly trees, cork oak-trees, amongst others) combine with others originating from all of the world’s five continents, ranging from such countries as Australia to Mexico and Japan. Altogether, there are more than 2500 species.