The park and palace of Monserrate after Sir Francis Cook restored  the property and turned it into his summer residence. The colorful round domes were inspired by the Duomo in Florence, Italy. The European influences contrast with the Moorish arches, columns, and palm trees, making Monserrate an example of eclectic Romantic architecture.  (Park and Palace of Monserrate, PSML, EMIGUS).

From ruin to romantic icon | Pro Club Bd

In the lush and enchanting countryside of Sintra, Portugal lies the Monserrate Palace, a 19th-century jewel of romance, decorated in Indian, Italian, Moorish and Neo-Gothic styles. Over the centuries, Monserrate has become a haven for writers and a source of inspiration for travellers.

Even in a state of disrepair, the palace inspired none other than the romantic poet Lord Byron himself to write his poem ‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage’.

The site was abandoned several times before Sir Francis Cook (1817–1901), a British trader and art collector, bought Monserrate and turned it into a palatial villa with a 3,000-acre botanical garden. In 1858 he hired father-and-son architects Thomas James Knowles Sr. and Jr. to restore and expand the palace.

The ornate architecture is said to be influenced by the Duomo in Florence, Italy; the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain; and the Brighton Pavilion in Brighton, England. The interior is surprisingly exotic, with Moorish arches and columns, Italianate Gothic arches, a marble fountain, pink and blue marble floors, and Renaissance sculptures. This eclectic architecture is typical of 19th-century Romanticism and demonstrates Cook’s passion for art.

The romantic beauty does not end inside. Designed by landscape architect William Stockdale and Kew Gardens head gardener James Burt, the park is home to rare plant species from around the world.

The restoration by Sir Francis raised Monserrate to a work of romantic art. In 1995, Monserrate became part of UNESCO’s Sintra Hills designated as a World Heritage Cultural Landscape. In 2010, the castle shines again in its old splendor and still inspires visitors from all over the world.

One of Monserrate’s lush gardens. The waterfall was already there when Lord Byron visited it in 1809 and was enchanted by the natural beauty of Monserrate. The waterfall was commissioned by British novelist William Beckford, author of the Gothic novel Vathek, who was a tenant in Monserrate before abandoning the site and Sir Francis Cook buying the site. (EMIGUS/Parks of Sintra and Monte de Lua)
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The Indian Arch in Monserrate Park shows the eclectic architectural influences. The decorative arch was acquired in India by Sir Francis Cook himself, a passionate art collector. (José Marques Silva/Parks of Sintra and Monte de Lua)
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The Palace of Monserrate has several entrances and this one clearly shows the palace’s neo-Gothic and Moorish influences with detailed arches and columns. Exotic combines classic influences with the oriental facade, tropical fauna and flora and the decorative fountain. (Luis Duarte/Parks of Sintra and Monte de Lua)
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Next to the palace’s main entrance, columns and arches support the round domes. The carved flowers and plants atop the columns evoke nature, a popular theme of the Romantic era. Behind these Moorish columns is the intricately carved front door. The intricately detailed tile (‘azulejo’ in Portuguese) next to the entrance is of Moorish influence and also honors the heavily Moorish influenced Portuguese architecture. (Luis Duarte/Parks of Sintra and Monte de Lua)
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The gallery reminds visitors of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. The foliage motifs and arches represent the continuity between interior and exterior as the exterior style reproduces the interior style. There are no doors in the palace, which allowed the Cook family and their guests to enjoy the home at ease as there are no barriers between the guest bedrooms and the family rooms. (EMIGUS/Parks of Sintra and Monte de Lua)
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The colored dome (the dome-like ceiling) bathes the central atrium in light and, with its octagonal shape, also evokes the romantic character of Gothic architecture. The arches, stained glass, carvings and foliage motifs are typical of Moorish architecture. (Luis Duarte/Parks of Sintra and Monte de Lua)
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The central atrium was a place where the paths of the Cook family and their guests crossed, as it linked the public and private spaces of the palace. The natural beauty is accentuated by the shimmering water fountain, the light-filled upper dome and the beautifully carved plant motifs on the walls. The eclectic architecture combines Moorish wood carvings and Italian marble in a romantic style. (Luis Duarte/Parks of Sintra and Monte de Lua)
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When Francis Cook resided in his palatial mansion, he worked in the library, the only room with a door. The beautifully carved doors, arches, ceiling and walls are neo-Gothic, a style that Romantic architects are happy to incorporate. (Luis Duarte/Parks of Sintra and Monte de Lua)
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Cook was an admirer of beautiful spaces, as evidenced by the large music room. This room was used for socializing and receptions for the Cook family and their guests. Today this room is used for concerts due to its acoustic qualities as well as the beautiful view of the gardens. At the foot of the dome, plaster busts of Saint Cecilia, the Muses and Apollo symbolize music through the ages. (Luis Duarte/Parks of Sintra and Monte de Lua)
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A detail of the bust of St. Cecilia, patron saint of music, on the base of the cupola of the music room. Architectural elements are combined with relief sculptures to express the physical and symbolic beauty of the romantic palace. (José Marques Silv/Parks of Sintra and Monte de Lua)

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