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|Cultural Landscape of Sintra|
|Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List|
|Criteria||ii, iv, v|
|UNESCO region||Europe and North America|
|Inscription||1995 (19th Session)|
Sintra (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈsĩtɾɐ]) is a town within the municipality of Sintra in the Grande Lisboa subregion (Lisbon Region) of Portugal. Owing to its 19th-century Romantic architecture and landscapes, it has become a major tourist centre, visited by many day-trippers who travel from the urbanized suburbs and capital of Lisbon.
In addition to the Sintra Mountains and Sintra-Cascais Nature Park, the parishes of the town of Sintra are dotted by royal retreats, estates, castles and buildings from the 8th-9th century, in addition to many buildings completed between the 15th and 19th century, including the Castelo dos Mouros, the Pena National Palace and the Sintra National Palace, resulting in its classification by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1995.
The earliest documents describe a built-up town in the 11th century by the Arab geographer Al-Bacr (who was later supported by the poets Luís de Camões and Lord Byron). The Moors built their castle atop a nearby promontory around the 8th-9th century. When Afonso Henriques finally captured Sintra (after the fall of Lisbon) in 1147, he ordered the construction of the Church of São Pedro de Penaferrim, within the castle walls.
In 1493, Christopher Columbus sailing for the Spanish crown, was blown off course by gale force winds and fearing for the survival of his ship, spotted the rock of Sintra. Despite the awkwardness of seeking safe harbor in Portugal, Columbus had no choice under the circumstances and sailed from there into the port of Lisbon.
In 1507, Diogo Boitac built the Hieronymite monastery of Nossa Senhora da Pena in a nearby hilltop. In 1527, King Manuel I commissioned Nicolau Chanterene to build an altarpiece for the chapel; this retable was considered one of his finest works.
In 1808, it was the site of the signing of the controversial Convention of Sintra, which ended the first French invasion of Portugal.
Sintra is located at the foot of the Sintra Mountains, 18 kilometres east of the Atlantic Ocean. Some areas of the municipality close to Lisbon are essentially residential suburbs already in conurbation with Amadora, Odivelas.
With a population of approximately 33000 inhabitants, the town of Sintra falls in the middle of the three civil parishes: Santa Maria e São Miguel, São Martinho and São Pedro de Penaferrim. These parishes have been the centre of demographic and economic growth during the late 20th century, primarily influenced by the influx of tourism into the region.
According to recent statistics, Sintra's suburban railway is the most crowded suburban train system in Europe and IC19 (the highway from Lisbon to Sintra) is the most traffic-congested in Europe. Sintra's problems include major pendular movements to Lisbon, with intense traffic during rush hour on the IC19 road to Lisbon.