Palace of Pena (Portuguese: Palácio Nacional da Pena) is the most complete and striking example of Portuguese architecture of Romanticism. It is located on one of the rocky peaks in São Pedro de Penaferrim, municipality of Sintra, Portugal and fits perfectly into the rocky landscape covered with emerald streams of greenery.
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In the 18th century the monastery was severely damaged by lightning. In 1755, occurred the Great Lisbon Earthquake that caused the heaviest damage the monastery, reducing it to ruins. The chapel (and its magnificent works of marble and alabaster attributed to Nicolau Chanterene) miraculously survived without significant damage. The area was empty for almost a century, but even in such a dilapidated form it impressed the young prince Ferdinand, who visited the ruins in 1838. The prince acquired the old monastery, all of the surrounding lands, the nearby Castle of the Moors and a few other estates in the area on purpose to transform the remains of the monastery into a palace that would serve as a summer residence for the Portuguese royal family.
The construction of the palace was carried out in 1842-1854 (although it was almost completed in 1847). The process of construction was led by the famous Lieutenant-General and mining engineer Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege. Eschwege, a German amateur architect, was much traveled and likely had knowledge of several castles along the Rhine River. He designed the palace in the romantic style, using architectural elements of different countries. Abundance of exotic mixture of styles includes eclectic, neo-Gothic and neo-Renaissance, as well as pseudo-medieval fragments.King Ferdinand and Queen Maria II intervened decisively on matters of decoration and symbolism. Among others, the King suggested vault arches, Medieval and Islamic elements be included, and he also designed an exquisitely ornate window for the main façade (inspired by the chapter house window of the Convent of the Order of Christ in Tomar).
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However not for a long time, the magnificent palace served as the royal residence. After the death of Ferdinand the palace passed into the possession of his second wife Elisa Hensler, Countess of Edla. Later, Elisa sold the palace to King Luís, who wanted to return it for the royal family. In 1889 it was purchased by the Portuguese State, and after the Republican Revolution of 1910 it was classified as a national monument and transformed into a museum. In 1910, the last queen of Portugal, Queen Amélia, spent her last night at the palace before leaving the country in exile.
The Palace of Pena quickly drew visitors and became one of Portugal's most visited monuments. The palace and the interior have been preserved in the form in which they left the Queen Amelia. Over time the colors of the red and yellow façades faded, and for many years the palace was visually identified as being entirely gray. By the end of the 20th century the palace was repainted and the original colors were restored, much to the dismay of many Portuguese who were not aware that once the palace had such color variety.
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The complex of the Palace can be divided into four parts: 1) the foundations and the surrounding wall with two gateways and a drawbridge; 2) the restored structure of the old convent and the clock tower; 3) the courtyard in front of the chapel, with its wall of Moorish arches; 4) the palace area and cylindrical bastion with the interiors in the cathedral style.
Many fragments of the original buildings have survived, such as the monastery dining room, sacristy and chapel. They were surrounded by a wide terrace with the best view on view architecture of the palace. An interesting sight is a clock tower (1843). Sundial initiates an automatic mechanism that produces a cannon-shot daily at noon. Another attraction: the image of Triton, symbolizing an allegory of creation.
Huge palace is surrounded by the forest, which is stretched for more than 200 acres. Exotic taste of romanticism is manifested in the design of the park. On the orders of Prince Ferdinand, had been brought here a variety of plants from distant lands. The park has a labyrinthic system of paths and narrow roads, connecting the palace to the many points of interest throughout the park, as well as to its two gated exits.
In 1995, the palace and the rest of the Cultural Landscape of Sintra were classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.