ESCHWEGE, Wilhelm Ludwig von
(b. 1777, Aue, Saxony, d. 1855, Wolfsanger)

General view

1839-85
Photo
Palácio da Pena, Sintra

Most of the monuments of the idyllic town of Sintra either date back to the 15th and 16th centuries or can be seen as part of the historicising movements of the second half of the 20th century. Nevertheless, the rediscovery of this town belongs to the Neoclassical period. The densely forested Atlantic coastline had enchanted both the Romans and the Moors, and ultimately the Portuguese kings proceeded to build their summer residences here. In the 19th century the area became a destination for English and German travelers, looking for the spirit of Romanticism, and they discovered in Sintra living traces of Portugal's diverse culture.

The most important 19th-century building in Sintra is the Palácio da Pena, built for Ferdinand of Saxony-Coburg by the Hessian architect and naturalist Baron von Wilhelm Ludwig Eschwege in 1839.It represents an early attempt to combine the styles of various eras and nations in a single picturesque whole. This bizarre castle represented the fulfillment of a life's dream for Dom Fernando II as Ferdinand was known in Portugal. Unfortunately, the imaginative work was not completed until 1885.

Entry to the fairytale palace, situated high on Monte da Lua, is gained through a Moorish portal. Its "medieval" towers and façades are in a dazzling canary yellow, strawberry red and aquatic blue. The interiors are more diverse still, as are the furnishings that were designed to harmonize with them. The most magnificent example is the Arabian Room. Oriental can be seen in the Salão Nobre and in the bed chamber, while other rooms have Renaissance and Baroque themes. The cloister and chapel of an Hieronymite monastery from the 16th century occupies part of the complex.