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Biester Palace

Biester Palace; a hidden gem away from the crowds

Do you want to visit Sintra but avoid the crowds? Then you will love visiting Biester Palace! After many years, it finally opened its doors again in April 2022, and the palace and park are a hidden gem in Sintra town centre. Curious to learn more? Let's see what you can expect during this mysterious adventure!

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Discover Biester Palace

A quick overview

What to see? Biester Palace is a stunning place with a century-old rich history. It was also the film set of the movie The Ninth Gate, starring Johnny Depp.

Costs? € 6,00 for adults.

Where? In Sintra Town, 1 hour from Lisbon!

Worth it? Yes! This palace is way less crowded than the other palaces in Sintra, and the gardens are beautiful.

What is Biester Palace?

Biester Palace is a stunning Palace in Sintra, about one hour from the Portuguese capital, Lisbon. It’s also known as Chalet Biester, a historical monument surrounded by Sintra-Cascais Natural Park. Like most places in Sintra, Biester Palace has a surrounding park with stunning plants and flowers. Biester Palace Gardens also contains several greenhouses and a cafe.

It was built in 1880 by Portuguese architect José Luiz Monteiro (the first Portuguese architect who completed his studies abroad in Italy and France) as a residence for Ernesto Biester, a wealthy merchant and playwright who owns more mansions nearby. The style was late-century modernity and includes early art nouveau styles.

The Italian architect Luigi Manini, who was also a set designer, and the Portuguese Leandro Braga (and some of the best artists) were responsible for the decoration, and wow, they did a fantastic job! You’ll notice the Romantic Architecture really compliments the surrounding landscape.

The palace and Biester Garden lie in the heart of Sintra, and French landscapist François Nogré was responsible for the lush greenery. From here, you enjoy views over Castelo dos Mouros, Pena Palace and Sintra Town.

Biester Palace has a mysterious history, and you’ll discover many secrets. It’s a place where mysticism, art and religion come together. That includes a unique harmony between the palace and gardens.

Does Biester Palace look familiar?

If you’ve seen the movie The Ninth Gate, directed by Roman Polanski, you might recognise Biester Palace. Leading movie star Johnny Depp played the role of Dean Corso, who was a rare book dealer. He’s hired by collector Boris Balkan, who bought a copy of the 17th-century book The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows, a book written by author Aristide Torchia.

Torchia allegedly wrote the book in collaboration with the Devil, and only three books survived. According to Balkan, only one is authentic and hires Corso to determine which one it is. The 1999 neo-noir horror thriller film was partially filmed in Sintra, as well as locations in France and Spain.

In front of Chalet Biester, you can see the gate where Johnny Depp entered the gardens, and there is even a cut out of the actor.

What to see inside Biester Palace?

There are three floors to discover during your visit. The first two floors have beautiful rooms with furniture, and the chamber has a space for temporary exhibitions. Please note you’ll receive some shoe covers to protect the floors. You can take these off again when reaching the lowest floor.

Biester Palace Sintra is a private property, and after a stunning and careful renovation project, the 19th-century neo-gothic monument is finally open to visitors. The incredible interior is just like it was in the 19th century. You’ll enjoy frescoes, paintings, and theatrical decor. 

The middle floor

Let’s start from the entrance on the middle floor. When you arrive, you can see some panels that provide a short history of Biester Palace and more information about the work done by José Luiz Monteiro, Luigi Manini and Leandro de Souza Braga.
To the right, you can already get a glimpse of the library, which is followed by the Music Room. Straight away, you’ll notice the palace is fully furnished, unlike Monserrate Palace.

The Music Hall was used for entertainment and includes some naturalist pieces by Luigi Manini. He also worked on the design at Quinta da Regaleira. Amélia Biester hosted many events in this room, and it has an intimate feel to it.

The Drawing Room was used for receptions and a dining room, and here we see neo-gothic doors and historic furniture. The neo-gothic doors give access to the terrace and beautiful views over the gardens.
The Ballroom has a stunning fireplace with tiles made by Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro.

The dining room was used to host balls and celebrations, and visitors could stay warm in front of the fireplace. From the Ballroom, you can make your way up the stairs to the second floor.


Next to the staircase, you will also spot an elevator. This was designed by Raúl Mesnier de Ponsard, who also created the Santa Just Lift in Lisbon.

The top floor

Time to explore the nest floor! The staircase is simply stunning and entirely made from wood. It leads you towards the balcony, from which you can see the fountain in front of Chalet Biester and walk towards the Chapel. The Chapel is one of the most beautiful rooms in the palace! The ceilings were painted by Paul Baudry, who also painted the foyer of the Paris Opera.

The Templar Chapel is full of mysticism with links to the Knights Templar, Rome and Christianity. It’s unique as the Chapel is located on the master chamber’s floor. It has two entrances, one private and one for visitors. Four impressive stained-glass windows ordered from Hubert of Paris offer views of the Moorish Castle.

The rest of the floor contains mostly bathrooms, dressing rooms and bedrooms. The Master Bedroom offers stunning views over the village and the Sintra Mountains. The room is bright and full of colour! This is where Amélia and Frederico rested overnight.


Paul Baudry also painted the angels in this room, and Manini made the organic elements. After discovering all the rooms, you can take another staircase to the Chamber level.

The lowest level

In the downstairs rooms, you can visit the kitchen, the elevator mechanism and the Initiatory Chamber. This last place is linked with the ideology of the whole Biester Palace’s conception, given that, together with the chapel, it connects with the practice of initiating an individual to a secret Templar Order. The compartment is entirely made of stone and has a vaulted ceiling. The kitchen is stunning, and the interior features ceramic tiles on all walls.

Biester Park

The surrounding green area is an oasis of peace and one of the natural attractions to explore at Biester Palace. Once ruins, the gardens have been restored to its former glory. Just like inside, the garden has easy-to-follow routes, which are well-signposted.

Head over to the Discovery Viewpoint overlooking Sintra. From here, everything is discovered. The panoramic view includes Pena Palace, the Moorish Castle, and the palace in town, Sintra Palace. You’re surrounded by trees in Pena Park, but with clear weather, you can see as far as the Atlantic Ocean and Mafra.

Take a break

In between the greenhouses, you can join a hot or cold drink at the tea house. They have nice cakes and some sandwiches too. You can sit inside, but with nice weather, the terrace is a great place to rest. The greenhouse also has some tables and chairs for guests. Enjoy a coffee, fresh fruit juice, or the local Queijadas de Sintra.

Other curiosities in the gardens

After a well-deserved break, you can check out the Pena Cave. It’s a natural rock formation placed on a rocky recess of Biester Park. The large rocks overhang the entrance and some benches to sit on. Bordalo Pinheiro also created some benches in the garden. Or head over to the Australian Ferns Bridge and the Camellia Waterfall. At this point, you’ve reached the entrance/exit on the N375.

Tickets for Biester Palace and Park

Tickets are currently cheapest with GetYourGuide, and the entrance fee is only € 6.00 per person. On the official website, adults pay € 11,00 per ticket, and children between 6 and 17 years of age pay € 6,00. Children under five can enter for free.

There is also a special family ticket for € 28,00, which provides entrance for two adults and up to 3 children. Reserve your online tickets below to save money and time!

Opening hours of Chalet Biester

Visitors are welcome daily at Biester Palace. The opening times depend on the season. In summer, from April until September, Biester Palace is open from 10 AM until 8 AM. The last entry is at 7 PM. Off-season, from October to March, the doors are open from 10 AM until 6.30 PM, and the last entry is at 5.30 PM.

How to get to Biester Palace?

There are two ways to enter Biester Palace. One is from the main road on the N375, which is located at the lower end of the hill the palace stands on. When you arrive at the N375 entrance, you can buy tickets next to the small waterfall Cascata de Pisões. If you start from the bottom, you’ll need to walk uphill through the garden to reach Biester Palace.


The other entrance is located higher up. Estrada da Pena is the road towards the Moorish Castle and Palácio da Pena. In this case, you’ll walk uphill first, but you can enjoy a relaxing visit to this Sintra Palace. Starting at the top entrance on Estrada da Pena, you can visit Biester Palace first before moving downhill to enjoy the park and gardens.

Transport to Biester Palace

There are several ways to reach Biester Palace. First of all, a car is not needed. There is no car park, and it is not allowed to drive up Estrada da Pena (this is for taxis, tuk-tuks and local buses only). You can drive the N375, but there is no place to park your car nearby.

The easiest way to reach Chalet Biester is to walk from the town centre. From Sintra Train Station to both entrances takes around 20 minutes by foot. At Largo Ferreira Castro, you can decide if you walk uphill or keep walking on the same level.

If you can’t walk long distances, taking a tuk-tuk or taxi is best. It will be the most convenient but also the most expensive. Public transport is another option. Bus 1253 stops at the entrance on the N375, and it also takes 20 minutes to reach. Bus 747 drives by Biester Palace (to Pena Palace) but does not stop here!

Organised tours to Biester Palace

Currently, there are no group tours offering visits to Biester Palace. The site is easy to explore by yourself, and most tours combine Palácio da Pena, Cabo da Roca and Cascais. There is, however, an e-bike excursion leaving from the train station. Another option is to book a private tour to add Biester Palace to your itinerary.

Other things to see in Sintra

You might already know that this area has many palaces and sights to offer! If you have time to explore another palace in Sintra, you can visit Quinta da Regaleira next door. Here, you can see the mansion and the famous Initiation Well.

Further uphill, you’ll discover the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace. Or, if you prefer to head back to town, Sintra National Palace is worth it! Do you want to see another hidden gem in the mountains? Head to the Convent of the Capuchos, a former convent entity made from natural materials such as cork! Or explore Monserrate Palace, one of the most beautiful palaces!

Staying overnight

Staying the night is a great idea to enjoy your trip even more. You can stay in stunning and affordable B&Bs or go all out and stay in fairytale palaces yourselfTivoli Palácio de Seteais is a mesmerising place to stay. Or how about romantic Quinta Das Murtas? Check the map below to discover your perfect room for the night.

Booking.com

FAQ

If you're in a rush, you can do it in an hour, but if you'd like to enjoy the gardens and take your time, two hours is advisable.

It is a stunning place and less busy than the others in Sintra. If you have time, you should definitely see Biester Palace.

Conclusion

Be sure to add Biester Palace to your must-visit list when visiting Sintra! The 19th-century Chalet Biester has a captivating history with beautiful interior decoration. Parque Biester offers exotic vegetation within the Sintra Mountains. It is a great place to explore and one with breathtaking views!
If you like a quiet place to see amongst the busy palaces in the area, Biester Palace is impressive! Most palaces can be full of visitors, and Biester Palace is still a hidden gem! You reach the palace after a short walk from the town centre.

Written by Marga

Written by Marga

Content creator, travel writer and photographer

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I’m Marga, the blogger and photographer behind this site! I live in Lisbon, and I’m a cat-mum to 13-year-old Savage. I love coffee, cheese, a good book and exploring this beautiful country. I write about Lisbon and the rest of Portugal, and I hope this website will help as an inspiration for your holiday.

22 Responses

  1. Would love to visit Portugal sometime. If we ever get the chance to visit I’d love to see Biester Palace. And I’ll be sure to check your posts for other great sites.

    1. That sounds great Taylor! Yes, especially when you´ve seen the main palaces, Biester is a great spot to add to your itinerary!

  2. I think Biester Palace is a must-visit for me for I love art nouveau buildings. It looks great from the outside and the interior looks stunning! The location and smaller crowd seem all the more reason to visit.

  3. Wow! The entire place is jaw droppingly gorgeous. Love that it is a great place to avoid the crowds – what a hidden gem. Also, the cat is cute. Definitively saving for future reference.

  4. We loved our visit to Sintra. But next time we will have to check out the Biester Palace. Avoiding the crowds would certainly be good! I do love when places like this are open inside and you can get a glimpse of life in another time. Some lovely rooms to visit for sure.

  5. Very nice post! The Biester Palace looks like a beautiful place to visit.

    We are considering retiring in Portugal. A nice little place somewhere near the water. We have seen so many gorgeous pictures. It looks like a place we might enjoy in our retirement.

    You seem to have a lot of information here.. so I will be reading more of your blog as well.

    1. Ah, thank you, Sherry! I try to include as many things as possible during my travels in the country. I hope you´ll find it helpful.

  6. I can’t believe it’s a hidden gem! It’s very beautiful! I felt like being transported in another time. Thanks for sharing!

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