1. Pena National Palace, Portugal
Rising gloriously through the woods, brightly coloured in lemon and pink—the Pena National Palace in Sintra-Portugal, safely claims it place in history as one of the most beautiful castles in Europe.
The story of the Romanticist palace, which is a national monument of Portugal and also UNESCO’s world heritage site, begins with a chapel constructed at the hilltop in Sintra. Years later, a monastery was built in the same site. The monastery was first damaged in the 18th century by lightning and was finally reduced to ruins due to the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755. Miraculously, the chapel stood tall against all odds. Thereafter, for centuries, the site remained untouched until the King consort Ferdinand II decided to build a palace to serve as the summer residence for the Portuguese royalty. King Ferdinand commissioned a German amateur architect Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschweg for the Romantic style architecture of the palace. However, King Ferdinand and Queen Maria II played a significant role in deciding the décor of the palace.
The vault arches, Medieval and Islamic elements, and an ornate window for the main façade are the King’s contributions to this epic palace. One of the Seven Wonders of Portugal, the palace is now used by the President of the Portuguese Republic and other government officials for state occasions.