Sintra is a town a short train ride from Lisbon, built by the Portuguese in order to have somewhere to put their fancy buildings. It has a population of some 377,000, and contains five palaces, an historical convent, a hilltop castle, and several stately homes. Apart from the tourist industry, it appears to have little economic or political value, though the castle, at least, has some military advantages, being on a hill overlooking the Atlantic.

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