Sintra was the first European site registered by UNESCO as a Cultural Landscape. The Universal Value of this landscape was then recognised as a romantic landscape and a precursor to the interpretation of this new way of thinking in other places in Europe.
In Sintra it is possible to go through 7,000 years of history. From the Neolithic communities, which settled on the most sheltered slopes of the mountain, to the story of Roman civilisation, whose memory is preserved in the old designation of the mountain – Mons lunae, or Monte da Lua; the time of the Muslim domain of the territory, of which the castle is the most illustrious representative; that of the Christian reconquest, present in the history of what would become the Royal Palace of the Portuguese Crown and which originated in the old Moorish palace.
Sintra, which survived the 1755 Earthquake, has its golden age between the end of the XVIII century and the whole XIX century.
At this time the rediscovery of the magic of Sintra began, whose oldest known medieval form “Suntria” will point to the Indo-European luminous star or sun. It has been called Monte Sagrado and Serra da Lua.
The story shows also how this mountain has always awakened in Man the desire for contemplation, which has its purest materialisation in the Convent of Santa Cruz da Serra where, for almost 300 years, Franciscan friars worshiped nature as the ultimate expression of work of the Creator. And it was the special atmosphere of this place that brought to this mountain, in the XIX century, D. Fernando II of the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha dynasty (1836-1885). Very connected to Sintra and its landscape, this king-artist would implant Romanticism here in a splendid and unique way. The king acquired the Convento da Pena located on a rugged mountain and transformed it into a fabulous and magical palace, giving it the maximum dimension that only a romantic with a great artistic vision and great aesthetic sensitivity could dream. In addition, D. Fernando II surrounded the palace in a vast romantic park planted with rare and exotic trees, decorated with fountains, water courses and chains of lakes, chalets, chapels, false ruins, and magical paths. The king also took care to restore the forests of the Sierra where thousands of trees were planted, mainly oaks and indigenous pines, Mexican cypresses, acacias from Australia, and so many other species that contribute perfectly to the romantic character of the Serra.
It is in the third quarter of the century XVIII that the romantic spirit of foreign travellers and the Portuguese aristocracy exult the magic of Sintra and its places, in addition to the exoticism of its landscape and climate.