Pena Park + Chalet and Garden of the Countess of Edla
Every garden has its secrets. In this half-day itinerary permanently accompanied by a guide, participants can discover these secrets while walking through the labyrinthine paths of the approximately 85 hectares of the Park of Pena, where various scenes emerge and evolve to awaken a range of emotions. Mysterious refuges where there is always something new to discover appear alongside enigmatic buildings framed by diverse landscaped scenes and exotic botanical collections. A relaxed picnic at Pena Farm precedes the visit to the Chalet of the Countess of Edla, a unique building constructed in full communion with nature.
This itinerary is designed so you can enjoy these wonderful places in a relaxed way. Parques de Sintra will accompany you from start to finish, welcoming you at Largo D. Fernando II in São Pedro de Sintra and providing transport to Pena and meals. The only thing you have to worry about is enjoying the walk, breathing in the fresh air and taking in the beauty of the countless nooks and crannies to be discovered.
Your experience at Park of Pena begins at the riding ring, a place surrounded by beautiful magnolias where young princes once learned to ride and where tennis was played for the first time in Portugal.
Here you will receive a small snack to keep you going through the first part of the walk.
Temple of Columns / The Warrior Statue / The Queen’s Table
Walking along the winding roads of the park, we are led to discover the Temple of Columns, whose yellow dome supported by twelve columns stands out among the treetops. The Warrior Statue can be seen nearby, including, at its feet, an octagonal table which has taken the name of the Queen's Table because it was one of Queen Amelia's favourite places.
Now we will climb to High Cross, the highest point of the Sintra Hills, situated at an altitude of 528 metres. From here and on the subsequent downwards slope you can enjoy some of the most amazing views over the green of the mountain on which the Palace of Pena is situated, and of the meadows to the north, the Cascais coast to the south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.
Fountain of the “Preta” / Tank of the Seven Pines
The descent from High Cross leads us back into the trees, among which we can discover secret retreats hidden among the moss such as the Fountain of the 'Preta' and the Tank of Seven Pines. Here you can also savour the magic and sounds of a beautiful beech forest punctuated by rhododendrons and camellias.
Lake of the Shell and Queen’s Fern Valley
Found in this enchanted forest is one of the most exotic valleys in the park, the Queen's Fern Valley, a collection of leafy tree ferns from Australia and New Zealand which emerges to the sound of the water flowing from the Lake of the Shell. The valley is flanked by tall deciduous oaks, which provide these sensitive species with ideal shady conditions throughout the year. The trees' canopies merge at the top, evoking a structure similar to that of the nave of a Gothic cathedral.
Camellia Garden, Manueline Chapel and Tank of the Friars
It is now time to visit the Camellia Garden, the most important collection of these plant species in the Park of Pena, and distinguished as a 'Camellia Garden of Excellence' by the International Camellia Society in 2014. Native to China and Japan, camellias were introduced here by King Ferdinand II in the 1840s. Since then, they have become a symbol of the Sintra winter, the time of the year when they bloom, brightening up the gardens with varied colours and forms. In this garden you will also find the Manueline Chapel and the Tank of the Friars, reminiscent of the ancient wall of the 15th century monastery around which King Ferdinand II designed the Palace of Pena.
Little Birds Fountain and Valley of Lakes
At the base of the Camellia Garden one discovers the Little Birds Fountain, a small neo-Moresque pavilion that encloses a small spring of crystalline water, the sound of which is amplified by the building's efficient acoustics. Following this path of water one arrives at the Valley of Lakes, the lowest point in the park and where all the park's water lines run together. The path follows five lakes connected by small waterfalls arranged in the shade of the pleasant leafy valley, always accompanied by the sound of running water. The lakes are also home to two Duck Houses for water birds. The architecture of these structures invokes the two most imposing constructions of King Ferdinand II's domains: the Moorish Castle and the Palace of Pena.
Pena Farm and Stables
Crossing the Valley of Lakes to the west side of the park entails a complete change of scenery, providing different emotions and a new journey of the imagination. This area of the park was created by King Ferdinand II following the concept of Ferme Ornée (Ornamental Farm), a setting which provided him with pleasant 'country walks'. The central and dominant point of Pena Farm is the Stables, a building which functioned to support agricultural activities and provided living space for animals. Enclosures with farm animals such as goats, sheep, horses and rabbits are found around the Stables, in addition to a meadow with rest and picnic areas and the complex of greenhouses, where some of the plant species indispensable to the maintenance of the gardens are produced.
At Pena Farm you will be served a picnic that will allow you to better appreciate this bucolic scenery. There is certainly no setting more beautiful in which to restore your energy in communion with nature.
Garden of the Countess of Edla
The pergola that appears after the greenhouses of Pena Farm leads to the Garden of the Countess of Edla, a feature built by King Ferdinand II and his second wife, Elise Hensler, the Countess of Edla. The Garden features meticulously planned botanical collections such as the Countess' Fernery, which brings together the oldest collection of arboreal ferns in the park. The park is traversed by a water line which forms small lakes and waterfalls and a remarkable collection of camellias delicately whose delicate flowers offer a counterpoint to the blooms of the azaleas and rhododendrons. Dominating the delicacy of this garden are the Chalet Stones, a towering chaos of granite blocks exposed at the highest point near this building. From here, walking through a labyrinth of stone and moss, it is possible to see the west-facing façades of the Palace of Pena in the distance.
Chalet of the Countess of Edla
In the idyllic setting of the Garden of the Countess of Edla is one of the most beautiful and interesting buildings in the Park of Pena – the Chalet, also known as House of Indulgence (Casa do Regalo) was built as a place of refuge by King Ferdinand II and his second wife, the Countess of Edla. It was the first alpine style chalet built in Portugal, a fashion that later became widespread in the region of Sintra/Cascais, and fits perfectly into this romantic setting with its wooden exterior panelling. Inside, you can discover the monarchs' intimate spaces, finely decorated to their own personal taste.
'A perfect park or, in other words, one conceived through art, should, like a good book, awaken at least as many thoughts and feelings as it reveals', Hermann von Pückler-Muskau (1785-1871), author of a vast set of reflections on romantic landscaping.
Having finished this tour, and hoping that this 'perfect park' has awakened in you the variety of emotions that King Ferdinand II intended, we have return transport to your starting point waiting for you at 15h:45.