Pena Palace History

Pena Palace History | From A Monastery To Majestic Palace

Constructed atop the forested regions of the Sintra Mountains in Portugal, Pena Palace is a beautiful castle that showcases the Romanticism movement. Pena Palace's history can be dated back to the 12th century when there was actually a chapel in the place where the castle stands today. 


The palace was demolished by King Manuel I and the Royal Monastery of Nossa Senhora da Pena was built on his orders. The monastery was brought down to ruins in 1755 by a devastating earthquake. However, the monastery was functional until 1834 when the religious orders were issued in Portugal. Later, King D. Fernando II decided to build a summer retreat palace for his family over the ruins. He appointed the famous Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege from Germany to design the palace with lavish rooms, gardens, and archways. 


Today, the Pena Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the interesting palace of Pena history lures visitors from far and wide.

Timeline Of Pena Palace

  • The Pena Palace's history began in the 12th century when a chapel dedicated to Nossa Senhora da Pena existed in the place of the present-day Pena Palace.
  • In 1503, King Manuel I started the construction of the Royal Monastery of Nossa Senhora da Pena.
  • In 1755, a catastrophic earthquake left the Royal Monastery of Nossa Senhora da Pena in ruins.
  • Until 1834, the Royal Monastery of Nossa Senhora da Pena remained functional until the fall of the religious orders in Portugal.
  • In 1838, King D. Fernando II of Portugal ordered the palace construction on the monastery ruins.
  • In 1840, King Fernando II of Portugal and his family started using Pena Palace as their summer retreat.
  • In the second half of the 19th century, King D. Carlos I, Queen D. Amélia of Orléans, and their son D. Manuel II spent considerable time in the Pena Palace during summers.
  • In 1910, Pena Palace was declared a National Monument and in 1995 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • In 2000, the National Palace of Pena was added to the Network of European Royal Residences.


Read More: Pena Palace Architecture

History Of Pena Palace


12th Century

While the Pena Palace that we currently see was built in the 19th century, the Pena Palace's history dates back to the 12th century. Before the construction of the present-day palace, there was a chapel dedicated to Nossa Senhora de Pena present in that location. King Manuel 1 who was in power at that time brought down the chapel and built a monastery in its place called the Royal Monastery of Senhora da Pena.


Read More: Inside the Pena Palace

18th Century

The Royal Monastery of Nossa Senhora da Pena was operational until the start of the 18th century. In 1755, a terrific earthquake of very high magnitude struck Lisbon and caused a significant change in the National Palace of Pena history. Due to that earthquake, the Royal Monastery of Nossa Senhora da Pena was completely devastated to ruins. However, it served its purpose throughout the 18th century.


Also Read: Places to Visit Near Pena Palace



19th Century

In 1834 after the dissolution of religious orders in Portugal, The Royal Monastery of Nossa Senhora da Pena was abandoned. Four years later, in 1838, King D. Fernando II decided to construct the present-day Pena Palace over the ruins of The Royal Monastery of Nossa Senhora da Pena. He and his family used the Pena Palace for more than a decade as their summer retreat with stunning views of the Sintra Mountains.


Also Read: Best Time to Visit Pena Palace

20th Century

In the 20th century, the Pena Palace's stature was significantly enhanced. Owing to the rich Pena Palace history, it was declared a National Monument and was considered the most important centre of the Cultural Landscape of Sintra in 1910. In 1995, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today, the Pena Palace stands majestically as one of Portugal's most iconic landmarks, attracting visitors from around the world. Its unique architectural styles, colourful façade, and the rich Pena Palace history make this place worth a visit.


Book Now: Pena Palace and Moorish Castle Combo TIckets

Pena Palace Construction

Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege

King D. Fernando II decided to build the Peena Palace in 1938. He appointed Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege, a renowned German architect to design the layout of the palace and to overlook its construction. Von Eschwege worked dedicatedly on the palace's layout with minute attention to detail like the beautiful entrance archway and the ornate chapel. He designed the palace with several impressive decorative elements that fascinate the visitors even today


Read More: Facts About Pena Palace

The Architecture of Pena Palace

The Peena Palace was designed by the famous German architect Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege. He designed the palace with several architectural styles like Gothic, Moorish, and Renaissance which give the palace a unique architectural perspective. Shades of yellow and red dominate the colour palette of the palace's exteriors. The interiors are designed to be lavish with big rooms, intricate tilework, and opulent furnishing. The chapel in the palace grounds looks spectacular with stained glass windows and detailed carvings. The park with several exotic plants and winding pathways makes the palace even more alluring.

Pena Palace Today

Owing to the rich National Palace of Pena history and cultural significance, this magnificent building has been declared a National Monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today the palace allows visitors to immerse themselves in the opulence of the 19th century while celebrating the glory of Portugal's past.


Visitors can tour the richly decorated rooms, including the Great Hall and the Arab Room, and gain insights into Pena Palace's history. Some of the architectural styles you can find here are Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, Neo-Islamic, and Neo-Renaissance elements. The captivating facade is decked in shades of bright red and yellow amidst the forested surroundings. The palace interiors resonate opulence with sprawling rooms, intricate tilework, and expensive artistry decor items that give a glimpse into Pena Castle's history. You can also climb to the terraces for breathtaking views of the Sintra Mountains and surrounding landscapes.

History Of Pena Palace Video

The Fascinating History of Pena Palace

Pena Palace, located in Sintra, Portugal, boasts a rich history. Originally a humble 16th-century monastery, it underwent a transformative renovation in the 19th century under King Ferdinand II. The king's passion for Romanticist architecture led to the creation of the palace's unique blend of styles, including Neo-Gothic, Neo-Renaissance, and Neo-Islamic. The result is a captivating masterpiece that reflects the diverse influences and artistic trends of its time, now celebrated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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FAQ's Of Pena Palace

When was Pena Palace constructed and by whom?

The present-day Pena Palace was constructed in the 19th century by King Ferdinand II over the ruins of the Royal Monastery of Nossa Senhora da Pena. He built the palace with beautiful gardens and lavish rooms to be used as a summer residence for his family. However, the National Palace of Pena's history can be traced back to the 12th century.

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What inspired the design and architecture of Pena Palace?

The design and architecture of Pena Palace were inspired by various styles, including Gothic, Renaissance, and Moorish. King Ferdinand II was inspired by his travels and the architecture he saw in other countries. The palace's vibrant colours and intricate carvings and sculptures reflect the Romanticism movement, which was popular in Portugal at the time of its construction.

How long did it take to construct Pena Palace?

The construction of the Pena Palace took place from the 19th century to the early 20th century over 30 years. The design of the Pena Palace was meticulously done by the German architect Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege who also overlooked the construction of the Pena Palace.

Know More: Lisbon to Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra, & Pena Palace Trip

What was the purpose of Pena Palace?

The purpose of Pena Palace was to serve as a summer residence for the Portuguese royal family. King Ferdinand II wanted to create a functional and beautiful palace that would showcase his interests and passion for art and architecture. Pena Palace served this purpose for many years and continues to be a symbol of Portugal's rich history and culture.

Who were the original inhabitants of Pena Palace?

The original inhabitants of Pena Palace were the Portuguese royal family, who used the palace as a summer residence during the 19th and early 20th centuries. After the fall of the monarchy in 1910, the palace was converted into a museum and opened to the public. Today, Pena Palace is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Portugal, and visitors from around the world can admire the beauty and rich history of this unique palace.

How old is the Pena Palace?

The Pena Palace is 170-180 years old and the history of Pena Palace can be dated back to the 12th century. There was originally a chapel dedicated to Nossa Senhora de Pena in the place where the modern-day Pena Palace stands.

Read More: Pena Palace and Park Entry Ticket with Tuk Tuk Ride

What is Pena Palace famous for?

Renowned for its unique architecture blending Gothic, Moorish, and Renaissance influences, Pena Palace is equally celebrated for its vivid, multihued exterior, adorned in striking tones of yellow, red, and purple and one of the best palaces in Portugal

Who designed Pena Palace?

Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege, a German architect designed the Pena Palace. It was under his design layout that the ruined monastery was transformed into a beautiful palace. Today, the palace features various styles like Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, Neo-Islamic, and Neo-Renaissance. Architect Nicolau Pires was also actively involved in the project.

What is the most interesting fact about the Pena Palace history?

One of the most interesting facts about the history of Pena Palace is its eclectic architectural style. The unique blend of Romanticism and Moorish architectural styles which encompasses Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, Neo-Islamic, and Neo-Renaissance styles deserves a special mention. The palace's vibrant and colourful exterior reflects the fascinating artistic and cultural influences of its time.

Where is the Pena Palace located?

Perched atop Serra da Sintra hill, Pena Palace graces the second highest peak (480m) in the region, offering spectacular views and an enchanting presence.

Is it worth visiting Pena Palace?

Absolutely worth a visit, Pena Palace boasts a captivating medley of architectural styles, adorned with vibrant and colorful details that create a truly enchanting and unique atmosphere.

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