No trip to Lisbon or for that matter Portugal is complete without a visit to the flamboyant Palacio de Pena, which translates as Palace of Feathers. Lisbon’s very own fairy tale Palace on top of the hill. What started as a humble chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Pena, was later made into a monastery by King Manuel I, unfortunately, the monastery was severely damaged during the massive earthquake in 1755 [fun fact: A 7.7 earthquake that flattened 85% of Lisbon’s buildings]. For almost a century the abbey lay in ruins until in 1838, German Ferdinand Saxe Coburg-Gotha, the king consort of Queen Maria Inocco bought the ruined Palace, the Castle of Moors and some 200 hectares of land surrounding the monastery. Two years later German architect, Baron von Eschwege, was commissioned to start work on what would become the royal families, summer residence.
Renovations were made to the existing monastery and then adding the new palace which was inspired by the various Bavarian Castles in Europe. What is maybe one of the best expressions of the Romanticism architecture of the 19th Century, the palace is actually an amalgamation of Neo-Romanesque. Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, and Indo-Gothic. It is this eclectic fusion of styles, intricate towers, small turrets, lavish terraces with the golden sundial and facades of purple azulejos that makes the palace truly unique and absolutely breath taking. The King further enhanced its beauty by declaring the monastery to be painted red and the new palace yellow. His creative flair extending to the gardens below, the Pena Gardens some 200 hectares of garden, were planted with exotic plants and trees from all over the world, meticulously placed amongst secret pathways and ponds to further enhance the beauty of the palace.