Sintra is a lovely town which is found near Lisbon in Portugal. It is one of the most popular places in Portugal and is protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It is also one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. A beautiful castle on the top of the hill in the Sintra Mountains, called The Pena Palace, still inspires artists and attracts tourists. Its long story is so rich that it is hard to believe that all the events really happened in just one place.
The Medieval Lady of Pena
The castle was built on the site of a medieval chapel dedicated to the local Virgin Mary call “Our Lady of Pena.” This site gained religious importance after a reporting of the apparition of the Virgin Mary. The chapel to honor the Virgin was built on the top of the hill and many people pilgrimaged there. In 1493, the site had two more special visitors; King John II of Portugal and his wife Queen Leonor climbed up the mountain to honor their patron.
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When the king saw the magnificence of this place he decided to found a sanctuary there, and ordered for the building of a monastery – which was donated to the Order of Saint Jerome. Until the 18th century it was just a small structure which housed about 18 monks and it was seen as one of the most mysterious places in Portugal. This was where people went to ask the Virgin Mary for help, but also an isolated area for the monks, whose life and death were focused in one place.