The castle’s decline began in the 15th century, when more of the population chose to live at the bottom of the hills, in today's ‘old quarter’ of Sintra.
The feature that is uniquely ‘Sintra’ is neither the Castle nor the Palace, but the two, cone-shaped chimneys that rise skyward from the Palace kitchen. The giant kitchen, meant to prepare elegant banquets for royalty and guests, needed giant chimneys.
Sort of odd to have the chimneys be the identifying feature of the view, but it is.
Once we leave the Palace, I wander the old quarter of Sintra. After the hectic start to my trip, after missing the introductory tour of Lisbon, I am only now starting really to feel, I immerse myself in the narrow, hilly, winding streets of this ancient city.
Away from the palace and the wide boulevard that leads to it, the streets are almost like alleys, barely large enough for 3 people to walk abreast, often with steps leading up or down a hill. Small shops beckon; laundry hangs from the windows; sunlight and shadow play on the walls. This is Portugal. By Dawny Gershkowitz