From the outside Parque da Liberdade in Sintra looks just like any normal park; encircled by yellow walls, the verdant tree tops form a huge backdrop that climbs the steep slopes of the hill through which twisting pathways create a labyrinthine passage that sprawls across the park.
The difference to any other park is the odd collection of handmade animal sculptures that litter the area. From elephants and giraffes to giant ants and lizards, the sculptures have the look of something made by school children; paper mache and wire frame daubed in poster paint.
There is something cute about them which endears you to the cause, that the locals have added their personality to the place and personalised it in a memorable and pretty way.
Eslewhere, Parque da Liberdade is a twisting mass of paths which intersect, rise and fall as the park climbs the hill. Little tribute and monuments can be seen along the pathways, while trees are labelled and dated giving their names and time of planting. There are a few open areas higher up where stone benches provide a respite in the shelter of aged pines and oaks.
An arboretum lies at the northern end of the park, surrounded by an arcing path that descends around the back of the age-worn greenhouse where it meets the door. Spiders have made the most of the glass and wooden structure but have not hindered the bees who make busy around the variety of plants grown within.
Because the park sits on the side of a mountain there are little streams that trickle from the top. These have been channelled into little pools and waterfalls, one on particular which has stone steps leading to the middle of the pond. It is a lovely addition to the park and a tranquil place to contemplate for those so inclined.
Parque da Liberdade is free to enter and is open weekdays between 10am and 8pm. On Sundays it opens at 11am.
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