Discover the Secrets of Biester Palace in Sintra

Biester Palace, right in the heart of Sintra, Portugal, is a magnificently restored 19th century mansion that opened its doors to the public for the very first time on April 30, 2022. Its palace and gardens left for decades in a state of disrepair, it sat quietly waiting for the chance to make its debut on the Sintra stage. This remarkable palace offers stunning views of the Moors Castle and boasts a prime location, just minutes from the ever-popular Quinta da Regaleira.

The Reading Room, Biester Palace, Photo by Becky Gillespie

The palace is not only a historical treasure but also a cultural maze filled with secrets waiting to be discovered. Biester Palace & Park, famously used as a film set for Johnny Depp’s “Ninth Gate,” is a standout creation by Luigi Manini. It is among Sintra’s earliest and most exquisite chalet-style buildings. The palace is encircled by a vast garden that features waterfalls, art pieces like Bordalo’s renowned tiles, caves, and even a Masonic and Knights Templar initiation chamber in its basement.

This architectural gem is complemented by a sprawling garden, offering some of the best views of all of Sintra’s attractions. The garden encompasses a variety of exotic species, waterfalls, mosaic art, mysterious caves, and even a charming tea house.

Special features in the house include the first mechanical elevator in a private home in Portugal, a historic Masonic and Templar Initiation Chamber in the basement, and a private chapel with Knights Templar motifs. Biester Palace, thus, stands as a must-visit destination for those looking for a destination in Sintra that still under the radar but just as rewarding as some of its more famous neighbors.

Hallway, Biester Palace, Photo by Becky Gillespie
The Living Room, Biester Palace, Photo by Becky Gillespie

History

Biester Palace, constructed in 1880 in Sintra, Portugal, was the residence of Ernesto Biester, a notable 19th-century merchant and playwright. Among the many mansions of Pena Park, the palace is distinguished by its neo-Gothic windows and conical roofs, overlooking the road leading to Pena Palace. Its design gained wider recognition after being featured in Roman Polanski’s 1999 film “The Ninth Gate,” starring Johnny Depp, where Sintra served as a backdrop.

The palace remained private until 2022, when it opened to the public following an extensive two-year restoration. Its interior, preserved to reflect its 19th-century origins, features original frescoes, stuccoes in the Music Room, and naturalist paintings by Luigi Manini, the Italian architect and set designer who also worked on Quinta da Regaleira. Additionally, the ceilings painted by Paul Baudry, famous for his work in the Paris Opera, and pieces by Bordallo Pinheiro, a renowned Portuguese ceramist, contribute to its theatrical ambiance.

The Chapel, Biester Palace, Photo by Becky Gillespie
The Chapel, Biester Palace, Photo by Becky Gillespie

Architecture 

Biester Palace exemplifies romantic Portuguese architecture. Influenced by neo-Gothic, English, and Alpine styles, it was the Biester family’s residence, designed by José Luiz Monteiro. It represents a timeless symbol of Sintra, showcasing the avant-garde and eclectic essence through works of various artists, including Portuguese carver Leandro de Souza Braga. Key interior spaces like the entrance gallery, library, living room, and ballroom are adorned with artworks by Luigi Manini and tiles by Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro. The painting in the hallway next to the staircase to the second floor is completely striking.

Beautiful Ceiling, Biester Palace, Photo by Becky Gillespie

The palace’s first floor houses a neo-Gothic chapel, a standout feature with vibrant stained glass windows. The chapel’s ceiling, painted by French artist Paul Baudry, reflects the influence of the Templars in Sintra. Make sure to visit the basement to check out the mysterious initiation chamber. The third floor is still closed to the public and one wonders what secrets it still holds.  

Entrance to the Initiation Chamber in the basement, Biester Palace, Photo by Becky Gillespie

Biester Park, designed by François Nogré, cascades across different levels, offering views of landmarks like Castelo dos Mouros and Quinta da Regaleira. The park is rich in exotic flora, including trees from China, Japan, Central Europe, Australia, and North America, framing the palace beautifully.

Exteriors of Biester Palace from the gardens, hidden in Pena Park, Photo by Becky Gillespie
The beautiful gardens of Biester Palace, Photo by Becky Gillespie
Mosaic bench in the Biester Palace gardens by Bordallo Pinheiro, Photo by Becky Gillespie
Enjoy your tea in the Biester Palace greenhouse, Photo by Becky Gillespie

Abílio Lobato dos Santos, the chalet’s administrator, emphasizes the Biester Palace’s cultural significance for Portugal. He quotes Eça de Queirós to highlight the palace’s role in preserving cultural heritage against the erasure of death. Describing the Biester as a space designed for reception and display, he asserts its importance in Sintra’s heritage. “Keeping it private,” he noted, “would deprive the public of experiencing one of Sintra’s most beautiful properties.”

Visiting Times & Tickets

Address: Av. Almeida Garrett 1A

Tickets for adults (18-65 years old) cost €11. Youth (6-17 years old) and seniors (66-79 years old) cost €6. Children 5 and under and seniors 80 and over are free. A family ticket is also available (2 adults + a maximum of 3 children) costs €28. On June 1st, 3rd, and 4th, when purchasing an adult ticket, you can also get a youth ticket (promotion valid at physical ticket offices).

Tickets can be purchased online here.

The opening hours for Biester Palace (open every day) are as follows:

  • April to September: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM (Last entry at 7:00 PM)
  • October to March: 10:00 AM – 6:30 PM (Last entry at 5:30 PM)

Closed:

  • January 1st
  • December 25th

For information on booking a guided tour (minimum of 8 people per group), check here.

Related Tours

Stay up to date
Subscribe To Portugal.com's Newsletter

Receive the latest news, travel information, stories, offers and more!

Invalid email address
Give it a try. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Location

Join our FB group Portugal Travel & Living for all things Portugal and news updates

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Follow Us

377FansLike
195FollowersFollow
159FollowersFollow

Most Popular

Spain vs Portugal: Which Golden Visa Program is Best?

There has been a lot of talk of Golden Visa schemes over the last few years. Each scheme has different rules and varying levels...

Life After NHR: Latest 2024 Update

Well, there is no doubt that 2023 was a rocky year in Portugal’s rich political history. The year saw changes to the very popular...

Portugal Golden Visa Latest: 2024 Update

Although the path to Portuguese citizenship through property investment ended in October of 2023, the Golden Visa program remains open and in full flow....

Latest Articles