Showing posts from January, 2013

Is Sintra your place of holidays?

Next week I am off to the Matka 2013 Travel Fair in Finland.  It is the biggest fair of turism in Scandinavia.  I am not going because it is Finland - though that is an added bonus.  I am going because that is a market that interests us here in Sintra, and the local tourism entities are not going there, for whatever reasons. In November, I went to the similar one in London.

This last summer we took part in a study of a master's student from Copenhagen Business School.  It was quite interesting - we found out what is most important for clients when they choose a small accommodation unit like ours - and once they are here, how we perform.  This study came about as we in Sintra have seen a major change in the tourism structure in the last 10 years.  Before, there were very few beds in Sintra, and the visitors that came here were, for the large part, day-trippers.  What we had here was a few 5-star hotels, mainly.  When Casa do Valle started the activity 5-6 years ago, a very large par…

The Castle of the Moors (Castelo dos Mouros)

Looking up from our pool toward the mountain, next to Pena Palace, the Castle of the Moors is erected.  Well, it looks like it's right next to it but in fact it is not.  They are both up the mountain, anyway, and the Castle of the Moors winds over two ridges of the mountain, and is one of my favourite places in Sintra - gorgeous in the morning when the day breaks and the mist comes through; gorgeous during the day with fantastic views to the other side of Lisbon, to Mafra and to the sea; and gorgeous in the night with the humidity rising and the birds calling.

The Castle was constructed during the 8th and 9th century, during the period of Arab occupation of the Iberian Penisula.  After Afonso Henriques' forces conquered Lisbon in 1147, the castle voluntarily surrendered to Christian forces.  A small group of people inhabited the Castle and constructed a chapel of São Pedro de Penaferrim near the castle walls.
The Lisbon earthquake of 1755 did considerable damage to the chapel…