If American castles are too far afield, Europe’s fairy-tale fortresses have plenty to offer for superyacht travellers. From royal residencies to inescapable prisons, these architectural wonders have served many purposes during their long lifetimes.
1. Pena Palace, Portugal
Sitting proudly atop a hill in the town of Sintra, the riotous colour of Pena Palace provides a feast for the eyes. The vivid shades and extravagant architecture of this romantic castle remain the legacy of King Ferdinand II of Portugal, who was known for having more of a penchant for arts than for politics.
Originally built in the Middle Ages as a monastery, King Ferdinand II transformed the site into a royal residence in the 19th century. The forested landscape meant that Sintra had a slightly cooler temperature than the capital, so was an ideal location for the Royals to escape to during the blistering summer months. Under the King’s instruction, German architect Wilhelm Ludwig von Schewge brought this opulent palace into existence. There is something for everyone here, as the castle was inspired by a culmination of neo-Islamic, Gothic and Manuelian design. The interior of the castle is equally flamboyant; each of the rooms inside the castle has its own theme, ranging from Moorish to Baroque European.
The castle has had many renowned visitors, notably Hans Christian Anderson and Richard Strauss who were both enchanted by the castle’s eclectic beauty. Having been granted the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, Pena is considered a symbol of Portugal and is often used by the President for official events.
Don’t miss: The ceilings inside the castle are adorned with many elaborate paintings and patterns. One fresco depicts magpies with sealed beaks, meant to serve as a warning to gossiping ladies of the court.
How to visit by superyacht: yachts up to 45 metres can use the nearby Marina de Cascais, which is a 20 minute drive from the national park where the castle is located. Alternatively, the port in Lisbon provides berths for yachts of all sizes and is only 50 minutes from the castle.