8.31.2007

SINTRA, PORTUGAL


In our recent travels with our two children we stopped in for a wedding in England and then travelled to Portugal and Holland. During our stay near Lisbon we visited the beautiful town of Sintra. Now, of all the places we travelled I didn't think that Sintra, at first sight, would have much that would appeal to a 2 year old and a 5 year old. After all, Sintra is registered as a UNESCO world heritage site. It offers a fairly tight grouping of some very interesting sights - not least the Castelo dos Mouros (which originally dates from the 8th or 9th century) which resides high up on one peak, on the other peak nearby sits the Pena Palace (a strange and fabulous former residence), and in the town below the Palacio National de Sintra (Summer residence of the former kings of Portugal). The Castle and Palace are a bit of a hike up a mountain and part of the fun for the kids - especially the grounds of the Palace. The Castelo dos Mouros are a ruin set amidst lush green, but there is enough still there (partly refurbished) to appeal to children, which was a bit nerve wracking considering my 5 year old was climbing and running along the fortified walls and towers with nothing but a sheer drop on one side and a steep fall on the other. The history is appealing to the adults, certainly at the Pena Palace which retains many original details, but the fun of running around the grounds (and the ramparts!) suits the kids just fine. One thing that we did not anticipate, but instead stumbled upon in the town was the Museo do Brinquedo. Here in this beautiful town, filled with outstanding historical sites, and not a stones throw from the Palacio National sits a fairly modest museum dedicated to children's toys! The place is filled with toys (more than 40,000 of them) from throughout the ages - spanning a period roughly from the 2nd and 3rd century BC through recent times. There are trains, boats, dolls, soldiers, games, novelty toys, tricycles, scooters, airplanes.... you name it, you can find it. It is interesting for adults and exciting for kids to see. Only problem is that the excitement is very largely contained (for obvious reasons) behind protective glass. Not that this stopped my children from finding a way to sit in one of the displays! Ouch! So, if you find yourself in Lisbon at some future date and would like a very enjoyable day or two out in a very beautiful town - try Sintra. There is more than meets the eye! And... oh yes... if you do visit the Museo do Brinquedo, make sure you keep a close eye on the little ones.... you'd be surprised at what they will do to get closer to the toys!!! And who could blame them!

1 comment:

My Dog-Eared Pages said...

Isn't Sintra an amazing place! I visited several times when a friend of ours owned the Quinta do Biester. It was an incredible estate on the way up the hill to the Moorish Castle. Next door was the Quinta da Regaleria where we were lucky to explore this underground garden of Eden. Lord Bryon said that Sintra was the most "enchanting place on earth..." ~ I think he was right. ; ) Barbara