We took a day trip to Sintra. It’s recommended as a two-day excursion, there’s so much to see, but beautiful buildings hold only so much allure for us (especially with Zev in tow).
So we opted for two sites only: Quinta da Regaleira, a sprawling hillside of fanciful gardens, grottoes and “exquisite constructions” and Castelo dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors), an 8th century castle overlooking the surrounding countryside. While you’d think that “castles” would be a sure fire winner with a six-year-old boy, we’d struck out thus far. These were an exception, though: he delighted in the tunnels and fountains of Quinta da Regaleira, and, when he spotted the imposing Castelo dos Mouros on a nearby peak, declared “let’s go there!” And we did.
The most interesting bit of the Moorish castle for me was to learn that the whole area had been occupied on and off for about 7,000 years, since the late Bronze Age. Paleolithic culture has always lit up my imagination, so it was fun to poke around in the hills and stare at the artifacts, wondering.
We wrapped up at our visit with a discussion of the Black Plague, smallpox, how humans evolve disease resistance, the ethics of Typhoid Mary and how many stormtroopers would be required to capture the castle.