Sintra mountain is a small massif – the Roman promontory of the moon – set before the ocean which climbs up to 528 meters at Cruz Alta. Once the domain of bushland the mountain has changed its features after the introduction of several forest essences. Today, in certain areas you can breath the air of a dense forest which contrasts with the cover of the coastal strip or the limestone platform in São João das Lampas. The exotic vegetation reaches its higher expression in the Pena and Monserrate Parks.
Cliffs, small arribas, beaches, dunes and the Rocha muzzle draw a seashore that amazes with its vigour and there are even dinosaur footprints tracks (Praia Grande do Rodízio).
Besides countless examples of erudite architecture – the Palácio da Vila (Village Palace) with its unique chimneys is the symbol of the Park – and with its well preserved gardens, the Sintra-Cascais Nature Park (14.583 ha) houses within it curious manifestations of popular architecture.
The undeniable scenic value associated with this protected area was recognized by UNESCO by integrating part of the mountain and Sintra’s historical centre in the World Heritage List with the category of “cultural landscape”.
This area has been inhabited since the earliest days of antiquity, and is therefore much appreciated by geologists. At the beach “Praia Grande”, you can observe an important track of dinosaur footprints, present in a layer of almost vertical chalk of the south cliff and still in these shore-sea zones, you can observe remarkable fossil formations and limestone fields eroded by the ocean. Also worth noting is the “Azenhas do Mar“, a picturesque village that rises on an impressive nature cliff, built with great human skill.
Apart from Praia Grande, there are many other beaches of excellent quality and stunning nature beauty. These includes: Adraga, Abano, Samarra, Magoito, Praia das Maçãs or Guincho. In addition to the relaxation they can provide, they are excellent for surfing, windsurfing or body-boarding.
In the hillside, further inland, there are some picturesque rural areas, including the Casa da Capela, Sintra Houses’ lodging offer, set in a place where the north is marked by dry stone walls separating different agricultural fields and protect them from the maritime winds (the wine area of Colares) and to the south, the slope of the mountain range of Sintra rises, populated by magnificent rails along the immense forest.
The Sintra Mountain is covered with lush vegetation, giving rise to a micro-climate that makes it so special. The fresh and varied aromas accompany the hikers, making this an unforgettable nature experience. Throughout the Natural Park, the richness of the Palaces, imposing of the Castles, or the singularity of constructions like the Convent of the Capuchos, surprise the visitors and are obligatory points of visit. Among these are: Pena Palace, Monserrate Palace, Moorish Castle and Quinta da Regaleira.