The Disney-like Palácio Nacional da Pena is a glorious conglomeration of turrets and domes awash in pastels. In 1503 the Monastery of Nossa Senhora da Pena was constructed here, but fell into ruins after religious orders were expelled from Portugal in 1832. Seven years later the ruins were purchased by Maria II's consort, Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg. Inspired by the Bavarian castles of his homeland, Ferdinand commissioned a German architect, Baron Eschwege, to build the
castle of his fantasies, in styles that range from Arabian to Victorian. Work was finished in 1885 when he was Fernando II. The surrounding park is filled with trees and flowers from every corner of the Portuguese empire. Portugal's last monarchs lived in the Pena Palace, the last of whom—Queen Amália—went into exile in England after the Republic was proclaimed on October 5, 1910. Inside is a rich, sometimes vulgar, and often bizarre collection of Victorian and Edwardian furniture, ornaments, and paintings. Placards explain each room.
A mini-train takes you from the park gate up to the palace. A path beyond an enormous statue (thought to be Baron Eschwege, cast as a medieval knight) on a nearby crag leads to the Cruz Alta, a 16th-century stone cross 1,782 feet above sea level, with stupendous views.
Estrada da Pena, Sintra, Portugal
21-910–5340; 21-923–7300-advance booking