Sintra has been a centre for cult worship for centuries: the early Celts named it Mountain of the Moon after one of their gods and the hills are scattered with laylines and mysterious tombs. Locals say batteries drain in the area faster than elsewhere and light bulbs seem to pop with monotonous regularity. Some claim this is because of the angle of iron in the rocks, others that it is all part of the mystical powers that lurk in Sintra’s hills and valleys. There are certainly plenty of geographical and meteorological quirks. In the woods around Capuchos, house-sized boulders litter the landscape as if thrown by giants, while a white cloud – affectionately known as the queen’s fart – regularly hovers over Sintra’s palaces even on the clearest summer day. Exterior walls seem to merge with the landscape as they are quickly smothered in a thick layer of ferns, lichens and moss. And its castles, palaces, mansions and follies shelter tales of Masonic rites, insanity and eccentricity that are as fantastical as the buildings themselves.

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