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Sintra's lush hills and valleys were once the summer residence of Portuguese kings and aristocrats, its late medieval palace the greatest expression of royal wealth and power. In the 18th and 19th centuries English travelers, poets, and writers—including an enthusiastic Lord Byron—were drawn by the area's beauty. The poet Robert Southey described Sintra as "the most blessed spot on
the whole inhabitable globe." Its historic importance brought it UNESCO recognition as a World Heritage Site.