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The history of Monserrate Palace
The story of Monserrate Palace starts in 1540. Friar Gaspar Preto arranged the construction of a hermitage dedicated to Our Lady of Monserrate. The chapel was built on the hill where the palace now stands. The All Saints Hospital of Lisbon owned the construction.
Sixty years later, in 1601, the property was leased to the Mello e Castro family, and the Quinta da Monserrate was purchased in 1718. In 1755 the earthquake struck and damaged the houses to an uninhabitable state.
Thankfully, in 1790, Gerard de Visme started renting the property and built the first palace on the foundation of the chapel ruins. In the years to come, William Beckford rented the property until Sir Francis Cook bought Monserrate Palace in 1856. The textile millionaire used the park and Palace of Monserrate as his summer residence for his family.
In 1949, the site was acquired by the Portuguese state, and the Sintra Hills, where Monserrate Palace is located, has been classified as UNESCO Cultural Landscape World Heritage since 1995. After extensive refurbishments, Monserrate Palace opened its doors again in 2010.
The interior of Palácio de Monserrate
When novelist William Beckford rented the palace, the building was still in ruins. Nonetheless, one day, poet Lord Byron visited and even wrote about the Park and Palace of Monserrate in the poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. This caught widespread English interest in the property, such as the attention of Sir Francis Cook. Cook also had enough money to rebuild the palace. He worked with architect James Knowles, and the design was inspired by Romanticism and Mudéjar Moorish Revival architecture.
The palace is Sintra Romanticism at its finest, and the entrance to the palace is included in your ticket. You will explore the main hall with the Carrara marble fountain. From this point, you can look into the stunning main hall dome, richly decorated with marble jalis from the Jaipur region in India.
From the main hallway, you can enter the billiards room, the Indian drawing room, the entrance hall, the library, and the music room. Underneath the dining room, you’ll spot a small set of stairs leading to the underground kitchen area.
Upstairs was reserved for the bedrooms, and nowadays, it hosts an exhibition about the palace’s history. There is photo material on a display of the latest renovation, and you can watch a short movie with the last resident of the palace.
The palace is absolutely gorgeous, but so are the gardens: Monserrate Park boats numerous caves, springs and fountains and even a lake. The garden is organised to its geographical descent, and you can find some rare species. Botanist William Neville, landscape designer William Stockdale, and the master gardener James Burt all helped create the Romanticism-inspired garden of Monserrate. How beautiful would it be to get married here or do your wedding images/elopement at Monserrate?
Depending on the season, you’ll find regional strawberries, a rose garden and colourful flowers. Cork oaks, palm trees, ferns, agaves, and bamboo stretch as far as the eye can see. In the middle of this lush greenery, you’ll find the chapel, which replaced the Chapel of Our Lady of Monserrate. If you’re not in a rush, a visit to both the Park and Palace of Monserrate will take around 3 hours to visit.
How to get to Monserrate Palace
Monserrate Palace is located in the middle of the Sintra Hills. The easiest way to get there is by taxi. From the train station in Sintra, or Sintra Town, it takes around 15 minutes to get there. Taxis are also available from Lisbon’s city centre and you’ll be driven straight to Palácio de Monserrate. If you rent a car, there is a car parking at Monserrate Palace where you can park your vehicle.
There is also a bus that drives to the Monserrate Palace and gardens. Bus 435 leaves from Sintra Station to Palácio de Monserrate. If you come from Cascais or Estoril, you can take lines 403 or 418. Scotturb offers a hop on- hop off service between some palaces in Sintra. A day ticket is available online for € 11,50 only. When you have the energy, you can walk also. It will take you around an hour to get there though. Also, note the landscape is hilly, and depending on your fitness, it might take you longer.
To Sintra by train
Take the Sintra Line from Rossio station to get to Sintra from Lisbon. The journey only takes around 40 minutes and will cost you € 2,30 for a single trip. You can buy your tickets at Rossio station or any metro station at the ticket counters or machines. If you stay close to Parque das Nações, you can take the train from Oriente Station to Sintra. Trains leave every 20 to 30 minutes to and from Sintra, depending on where you depart.
Park and Palace of Monserrate opening times
The Park and Palace of Monserrate open a little earlier in the high season. The park and palace both open at 9.30 AM. The palace closes at 7 PM, and the park at 8 PM. Please note the last admission is at 6.15 PM for the palace and 7 PM for the park.
During the low season, the park and palace open at 10 AM. The palace closes at 5 PM, and the last admission is at 4.30 PM. The park is open until 6 PM, with the last admission at 5 PM.
Tickets for Monserrate Palace and gardens
The Park and Palace of Monserrate are not as busy as the other Sintra palaces, but buying a ticket up front is always a good idea. This way, you can easily skip the line and save some time.
Skip the line
For those with the Lisboa Card, the Lisbon-Sintra trains are included and, therefore, free of charge. On top, the Lisboa Card offers a 20% discount at Quinta da Regaleira and a 10% discount at the Sintra Town Palace. On transport, you can save 25% on the City Sightseeing Portugal buses and 10% to 15% on Scotturb buses.
Other things to do in Sintra
One day in Sintra is often not enough if you want to see more than one or two sights. Sintra is also the home of the famous Pena Palace, Quinta da Regaleira, and the Morrish Castle. In Sintra Town, you have the option to visit the National Palace of Sintra and the botanical garden Parque da Liberdade.
Especially in the summer, some palaces and sights can get very busy. For example, you’ll need to order a ticket upfront for Palácio da Pena and Quinta da Regaleira. The calendar will show you which times are available. The queue at Castelo dos Mouros and Palácio Nacional de Sintra are often shorter, but a Skip the Line ticket will save you heaps of time! On busy days, you might be able to visit two sights; in the low season, maybe three, albeit it would be a bit rushed.
Where to stay
When visiting Sintra, ideally, you will stay one or two nights. At night the town gets quieter, and there are many lovely places to eat (try Bacalhau na Vila for lunch and the famous Queijadas da Sapa with coffee). In the morning, you’ll be the first in line at the fabulous sights of Sintra! There is a wide variety of hotels and apartments suitable for every budget.
Day trips from Lisbon
If you’re strapped for time or prefer everything to be organised and not worry about buses and trains, a day trip from Lisbon might be your best option. Different options are available, but the most popular ones include visiting Palácio da Pena and Quinta da Regaleira. A tour is often combined with a stop at Cabo da Roca and Cascais. Private tours to Sintra are also available from Lisbon. You can click the links above to book your magical day in Sintra! Or check an entire post about the best experience to visiting Sintra by clicking here.
How excited are you to visit Sintra? If you’re on holiday in Lisbon or Portugal, and you have the time, a one or two-day trip should simply not be missed!
Wish to visit this place one day! Will save this post for later! Thanks for sharing!
This is awesome guide and I will keep this in mind because it will be very helpful.
I visited Sintra in 2019, but it’s a place I would love to visit again!
I do not know what camera you have been using to take these beautiful and stunning pictures of Portugal, but they are so sharp. I appreciate you taking us around Portugal. It’s an awesome place to visit. The intricate designs and details of the buildings are very intriguing.
Your pictures are literally swoon worthy! I immediately pinned this on my map so I can visit when I’m in Portugal next year!
Wow, your pictures look amazing! I would love to visit one day, thanks for sharing!
What a thorough post everything is listed. How to get there, where to stay, where to get tickets etc. It sounds so fascinating I would love to go someday.
Wow that looks gorgeous!! You took amazing pictures!
I´m so into fairytale palaces – can´t get enough of your magical captures! While I visited Sintra 5 years ago I wouln´t mind to return to Monserrate Palace! Thanks for the inspiration