Technically, UNESCO considers the entire cultural landscape of Sintra the World Heritage Site here, but the crown jewel is the royal Pena National Palace. Considered the greatest example of 19th-century Romanticism in the world, the palace sprawls on a hilltop high above Sintra, and can often be seen from Lisbon, 17 miles away. Commissioned by then-king Ferdinand II on the site of a ruined 15th-century monastery and completed in 1854, the fanciful red-and-yellow palace is an exotic mix of Gothic, Egyptian, Moorish and Renaissance style elements.
Designed by mining engineer and amateur architect Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege as a summer house for the royal family, the interior of Pena features ornate stuccos, multi-patterned columns, Moorish-arched ceilings, and much of the original monastery’s chapel. The exterior is festooned with allegorical carvings, references to Biblical stories and religious icons, as well as lavishly painted Portuguese tiles.