Took the train to Sintra, a small city West of Lisbon. Sintra is surrounded by lush green mountains (more like jagged hills). The main attraction is a beautiful palace, the ruins of a fortress, and the forest. It was a hot sticky day and I was running late (as usual) so I opted to skip the 90 minute hike up to the palace, and took the bus.
The Palácio da Pena is a mismatch of styles. You can see evidence of the monastery it was built upon, it also look from some angles like a Bavarian castle, and from others like a Arabic palace. If it weren't for the faded paint it would look right at home in Disneyland. The inside of the palace was impressive, almost every surface was covered with elaborate tiles or more elaborate carvings. However it was also stuffy and crowded. I mostly enjoyed walking around the grounds. The most impressive, and enjoyable aspect of the palace is the structure itself. The outside is a maze of terraces, walkways, and stairs.
After finishing up with the palace (i.e. when it started to get really crowded) I opted to hike partway down the hill to the fortress which we'd passed in the buss on the way up. Unfortunately I didn't realize that the road was a loop, and I went the wrong way, so a little over an hour later I was back in Sintra. Caught the bus back up, this time getting off at the fortress.
The Castelo dos Mouros is the remains of a Moorish fortress built in the 16th century. The fortress is contained with in the beautiful Parque Natural Sintra-Cascais which is a dense and beautiful forest. Most of the trails through the park run along the ruins of the walls and the views from the towers (those that are still climbable) is phenomenal. I spent until closing time before sunset hiking around. There were people, but much fewer spread over a much greater area than the palace.