Only once before have I seen them from afar in waking life, but I know them and their names, for under them lies Khazad-dûm, the Dwarrowdelf, that is now called the Black Pit, Moria in the Elvish tongue.
Yonder stands Barazinbar, the Redhorn, cruel Caradhras; and beyond him are Silvertine and Cloudyhead: Celebdil the White, and Fanuidhol the Grey, that we call Zirak-zigil, and Bundushathûr
Located in the Sintra hills, the Park and Palace of Pena are the fruit of King consort Ferdinand II’s creative genius and the greatest expression of 19th-century romanticism in Portugal, denoting clear influences from the Manueline and Moorish styles of architecture. In 2013, it was the most visited monument in Portugal.
In 1838, King Ferdinand II acquired the former Hieronymite monastery of Our Lady of Pena, which had been built by King Manuel I in 1511 on the top of the hill above Sintra and had been left unoccupied since 1834 (suppression of the religious orders). The monastery consisted of the cloister and its outbuildings, the chapel, the sacristy and the bell tower, which today form the northern section of the Palace (the Old Palace).
King Ferdinand began by making repairs to the former monastery, which was in very bad condition. In roughly 1843, the king decided to enlarge the palace by building a new wing (the New Palace). The building work was directed by the Baron of Eschwege. The 1994 repair works restored the original colours of the Palace’s exterior: pink for the former monastery and ochre for the New Palace.
In transforming a former monastery into a castle-like residence, King Ferdinand showed that he was heavily influenced by German romanticism, and that he probably found his inspiration in the Stolzenfels and Rheinstein castles on the banks of the Rhine, as well as Babelsberg Palace in Potsdam. These building works ended in the mid-1860s, although further work was undertaken at later dates for the decoration of the interiors.
King Ferdinand also ordered the Park of Pena to be planted in the Palace’s surrounding areas in the style of the romantic gardens of that time, with winding paths, pavilions and stone benches placed at different points along its routes, as well as trees and other plants originating from the four corners of the earth. In this way, the king took advantage of the mild and damp climate of the Sintra hills to create an entirely new and exotic park with over five hundred different species of trees.
The Palace of Pena was designated a National Monument in 1910 and forms part of the Cultural Landscape of Sintra, which has been classified by UNESCO as World Heritage since 1995. In 2013, the Palace was integrated into the Network of European Royal Residences. [x][x]
Situated amidst Montalcino’s world-famous Banfi vineyards, on the site of the 17th century Poggio alle Mura fortress, Castello Banfi Il Borgo is a gem of a boutique hotel made of traditional village houses carefully restored by Italian designer and couturier Federico Forquet. Each of the 14 welcoming rooms and suites comes with its own gracious décor which mixes typical features of Tuscan architecture with rich fabrics, rustic details and state-of-the-art technology. The property’s delightful restaurant serves up seasonal Tuscan cuisine, and the wine bar, with its incredible wines and mouthwatering artisan cheeses and prosciuttos, is a nod to the authentic Tuscan enoteca.
Enjoying an idyllic location on the Dalmatian Coast, Villa Rosemarine is a luxurious 6 bedroom villa with elegant interiors, fragrant Mediterranean gardens, and topnotch facilities that range from highly-trained staff to private boat and bikes available for rent. Overlooking the Adriatic Sea, rooms are graciously decorated in warm, sunny colors while the sleek bathrooms have Philippe Starck fittings. In terms of leisure, the villa offers three entertainment rooms appointed with plasma satellite TV/DVD, a tennis table, and a couple of charming terraces ideal for sunbathing.