There are many great sights around Sintra, but Quinta da Regaleira, built by the eccentric millionaire António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro in the early 20th century, was one of the highlights for me. A big surprise, the place looks like the setting of a horror movie or something from a Dan Brown-book... Strange symbols and signs related to alchemy, the Masonry Society, and the Knights Templar everywhere... António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro wanted to create a mythical magical dream, and he did!
Spend a couple of hours exploring the five-floor palace, the chapel, the Regaleira Tower, the amazing 27 meters deep Initiation Well - and the mysterious garden full of caves, tunnels, lakes, fountains, statues, and much more...
Is the most amazing garden I ever seen!
I don't know why the turism in Portugal keep skiping it from the tourist guides. This place is an UNESCO World Heritage!
This garden has a lot of details like benches, fountains, caves and an enigmatic system of tunnels. Their symbolism has been interpreted like a espiritual path between light and darkness.
There's a lot of mythologic representations here, specially to the mythologic Greek God Pan.
My suggestion of a day trip:
Get there by the morning an visit Sintra Palace. Then have lunch on Apeadeiro Reataurant but don't ask for desset. Go back to the village center and go to Piriquita buy a Travesseiro and a Queijadinha (and a bottle of water! this treats are really sweet!).
Sit down in the stair of Sintra Palace and enjoy your dessert!
Take the walk to Regaleira Estate, and spend there the afternoon.
Take the train back to Lisbon and relax a litle in you hotel room.
Go have dinner on Terreiro do Paço and then walk to Cais do Sodré and visit Pensão Amor.
The whole family will enjoy exploring this property. The adults will appreciate the details of the main house while the children will love getting lost...then found... in the maze of caves and wells in the garden. Tip #1 Bring a flashlight/torch! Tip #2 Bring your camera. The garden is full of different and lush plant life.
Its not a "dream nor a fairytale" it is information, knowledge and history written in marvelous art for those who can understand it. Visit one of my ancestors achievements and try to obtain some knowledge.
Regards André M. Monteiro
Just outside Sintra on a road leading up into the hills, there is a stunning house set in vast, well-kept grounds. This property is the Regaleira estate (or Quinta da Regaleira) and was one of the highlights of my time in Portugal.
The house is named after the Baroness da Regaleira who acquired it in 1840. In 1893, it was sold to an eccentric millionaire, Antonio Augusto de Carvalho Monteiro, whose vision shaped the house and grounds into what they are today. He enlisted the help of esteemed Italian architect Luigi Manini and some of Portugal's best artists to create a fairytale house with a garden full of mystery and surprises. The house and grounds were opened to the public on the 27th of June 1998 after the Municipality of Sintra acquired them.
The house and the adjacent chapel are interesting to explore but for me the best part of Quinta da Regaleira was the garden and the many unique follies that are dotted around it. The grounds feature grottoes, a waterfall, towers with great views over the Sintra area and many diverse varieties of trees. I loved walking down into the depths of the Initiatic Well which is some 27 metres deep and connects with other parts of the garden via some creepy underground walkways.
Entry costs 6 Euros for adults and the entrance fee is well worth it. I spent most of the day here exploring the house, chapel and grounds. I also ate at the restaurant at Quinta da Regaleira where the food and prices were good- the Pasteis da Nata were very nice! The service on the other hand was very poor in comparison. There are several toilets dotted around the grounds too so you don't have to worry about drinking a lot of water to stay hydrated in the summer heat!
I explored the grounds on my own using the fantastic map they provide you with, although there are guided tours also available. For me, half of the intrigue of the place was discovering what lay around each corner on my own.
Quinta da Regaleira is open between 10am and 8pm in high season with earlier closing times in low season months.
Check out my travelogues for some photos from my visit to Quinta da Regaleira!
Quinta da Regaleira is much more than what you think it is at first sight. It is basically divided in two parts: The Palace and the Gardens.
The gardens have an huge extension and they count with, sculptures, fountains, cascades, underground paths and the most impressive of all: the Iniciatic well
The Iniciatic well is like an inverted tower, 27 meters deep that you can go down and from you can access to some underground paths. This well is full of mysticism and symbolisms.
The Palace was constructed in a Neomanueline style and has some quite eccentric style. From the top it has a nice view of Sintra.
There are individual and guided tours. Unless you really want to know a lot from this place I would recommend the individual one, since they give you a free map (also available on the web site) and it explains the most important things.
Adults: 6€; Students: 4€
"man of scientific spirit, very large culture and rare sensibility...", is what I read in the leaflet received at the entrance of the park, about the man who conceived the place.
I can't follow him! I find no harmony, no connection between the buildings, no rationality at all. Maybe... that's the idea. It's not easy to classify the place, but it surely deserves to be seen.
What a strange thing, this deep and elaborated well with a complex staircase descending in spiral to the bottom, to... to what?
Mysteries, cabalistic symbols, odd elements, this palace and gardens were made to feed... discussion. But it's a very interesting visit.
Not so obsessive as the buildings, the gardens are a pleasant area to stroll, specially in summer, when the cooling in the shades may complement the sun in the beaches.
There's always one more detail to appreciate here and there, in a very uncommon garden.
Funny thing! In USA it's common to see some rich guys trying to replace the absence of historic architecture with the expensive reproduction of ancient styles. In Europe it's not so common, but... it happens. For instance... here!
One century ago a rich man used the team that built the hotel in Bussaco following a Manueline style to build his own palace. Beautiful? Well... that's up to you. But strange... very strange, in a very strange farm!
We never visit gardens.We are too dummy to understand the flowers and such.But when a local VT-member told about this garden,we had to go there.It is not only a garden,it´s allmost like from fairytaila,with mystery well and strange constructions.In some way,we found it allmost romantic..Or was it only our wedding anniversary making as think so ;)
Anyway-even if you aren´t into gardens,visit this!
This building, and its magical gardens, conjure up most dramatically of all the Sintra beloved of the Romantics. It may not have the age and stature of the National Palace or Pena Palace, having been built at the very beginning of the 20th century, but it has a unique atmosphere and a fascinating story to tell. Sadly we only had time to explore the gardens; the palace, the Palácio dos Milhões or “Palace of the Millions”, must wait for another day.
Like the palace, the design of the gardens was inspired by the fascination of its owner, Antonio Augusto Carvalho Monteiro, with alchemy and ancient mysteries. He commissioned set-designer and architect Luigi Manini to create a fantasy garden that would present an image of the Cosmos. I quote from the leaflet that is included in the entrance fee:
The quest for paradise is found in coexistence with a mundus inferno – such as Dante’s Inferno – through which the candidate for initiation is led by an Ariadne’s thread. Various scenes from the initiate’s journey appear along the way of the vera peregrinatio mundi through a symbolic garden where we can feel the Harmony of the Spheres and the perspective of an ascetic conscience, by analogy to the metaphysical quest for the Being that is found in the great Epics. In these realms abound references to the worlds of mythology, to Olympus, Virgil, Dante, Milton and Camões, and to the mission of the Templars as continued by the Order of Christ, to great mystics and miraculous magicians, and to the enigmas of the alchemical Ars Magna.
All of the above translates in practice to a garden full of mystery, with a surprise around every corner of its steep, winding paths. There are pools and grottos half-hidden by greenery, towers that wouldn’t look out of place in a fairy tale (I half-expected to see Rapunzel let down her hair from one of the high windows), ornate details tucked into the crevices of its stone walls, and a labyrinth of dimly lit tunnels that links several of the most remarkable features, including the Initiates’ Well. The latter resembles an inverted stone tower, set into the earth rather than climbing above it, down whose spiral staircase initiates would descend to traverse the dark tunnels and emerge into the light at the Guardian of the Gates.
Visitors can opt for a guided tour or to look round independently. We chose the latter, and as we were pressed for time I think it was the better option, but ideally I would recommend that you take a tour to familiarise yourself with the layout and learn about the underlying philosophy of the design, and then return to explore alone the areas that appeal to you the most. Regaleira seems much less visited than some of the other Sintra attractions and you should find that you can have some of its atmospheric corners to yourself. Entrance fees for independent exploration are €6 for adults, €3 for children under 14, and €4 for students over 14 and adults over 65.
The website below is mostly just in Portuguese but the video on its home page though brief will give you a good flavour of both palace and grounds
There are more photos of Quinta da Regaleira in my travelogue
Don’t exactly know why but this is one of the places tourists often forget to go to while going to Sintra. Still, it is one of my favourites. What a disturbed mind built this initiatic gardens and house? A mystical place in the mountain of Sintra covered with exotic plants, a haunted house many secret passages, from the iniciatic well to the lake, etc, etc… You can almost stop and imagine treasures hidden somewhere and strange rituals happening throughout the garden.
It was built already in the XX century (1904-1910) by the commands of magical and mythological dreams of António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro and the talent of the italian architect Luigi Manini. The place has romantic influences and revival of gothic, manueline and renascense style to be a glorification of the portuguese mytical and esoterical history from the Templar Knights, Masonry, Alquimy, Rosicrucians and Christianity. But also sebastianic (the king that disappeared in Morocco and was ought to return to Portugal in a misty day) and the V Empire (not a mere territorial empire, a spiritual and linguistic body which spreads throughout the entire world; It represents the ultimate form of fusion between material and spiritual knowledge and should be led by “the hidden one”).
António Monteiro was born in Rio de Janeiro and a collector with rare collections such as the one of Camões (the portuguese poet). He was a wealthy man that enherited a huge fortune of the trade of precious stones and coffee in Brazil. He is also known for asking to produce what was called the most complex clock in the world Leroy 01 with 975 pieces, and 24 different funtions. The watch was awarded with the great prize of the internation exposition of Paris in 1900 and was bought in 1955 for 2 million francs by the city of Besançon, the town where it was made. The man was burried in Prazeres cemitery in Lisbon in a grave as complex as his palace. The key that opens his last rest is the same as the one that opens Quinta da Regaleira and his palace in Lisbon.
The area of Quinta da Regaleira has a palace (the millions palace), a crypt, church, several pinacles, gargoyles and terraces that have overlooks over Sintra, grottoes, lakes and the iniciatic well a deep well with stairs (135) that you can follow down until you find the rose of the winds and the templar cross (Portugal was one of the few countries where templars didn’t end; the name of the order was carefully switch to order of Christ). Some say in this well were practiced initiations to masonry. From here several tunnels start.
The beautiful gardens start ordered and end in a deep wood a belief in primitivism of the owner. The gardens have greek and roman statues.
Taking a flashlight won’t be a bad deal. Sometimes you’ll be alone in the dark in narrow passages that you won’t know where will get you.
Some say that there was an initiation ritual in this place of Fernando Pessoa (one of the most famous portuguese poets) that he speaks about in his poem Iniciação/Initiation:
Não dormes sob os ciprestes, * You are not sleeping under the cypresses,
Pois não há sono no mundo. * For there is no sleep in the world.
O corpo é a sombra das vestes * The body is a shadow of the robes
Que encobrem teu ser profundo. * That cover your deepest being.
Vem a noite, que é a morte * Night comes, which is death
E a sombra acabou sem ser. * The shadow perished without being.
Vais na noite só recorte, * You go into the night just a piece,
Igual a ti sem querer. * Equal to yourself without meaning.
Mas na Estalagem do Assombro * But in the haunted Inn
Tiram-te os Anjos a capa. * The Angels remove your cloak.
Segues sem capa no ombro, * You go on without cloak upon your shoulders,
Com o pouco que te tapa. * With the little that covers you.
Então Arcanjos da Estrada * Then the Archangels of the Road
Despem-te e deixam-te nu. * Undress you further and leave you naked.
Não tens vestes, não tens nada: * You have no robes, you have nothing:
Tens só teu corpo, que és tu. * Only your body, which is you.
Por fim, na funda caverna, * At last, on the deep Cave
Os Deuses despem-te mais. * The gods undress you further.
Teu corpo cessa, alma externa, * Your body ceases, external soul,
Mas vês que são teus iguais. * But you see: they are your equals.
A sombra das tuas vestes * The shadow of your robes,
Ficou entre nós na Sorte. * Stayed with us on faith.
Não estás morto, entre ciprestes. * You are not dead amidst the cypresses.
Neófito, não há morte... * New born, there is no death.
It is four acres of mysteries that shouldn’t be left in peace! It is 1 km away from the historical centre and has several activities throughout the months (like theatre in summer). Mariza, Cavaleiro Monge videoclip, was done here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTvjdkvDZHs).
Feb - Mar and Oct: 10.00h - 18.30h (last admission 18h)
Apr-Sep: 10h-20h (last admission 19h)
Nov-Jan: 10h-17h39 (last entrance 17h)
Prices; 6€; guided tours: 10€.
This is a magical and mystical day's adventure, sometimes called a "Dantesque subterranean world". It was built between 1904 and 1910. At one point owned by Dr Carvalho Monteiro, he hired the Italian scenery designer and architect Luigi Manini to build his dream.
It is truly am amazing place, well worth the trip to Sintra for this alone!
I have to be honest, I didn't like Regaleira. I was very enthusiastic to visit the venue but it was really "heavy" atmosphere. I am not a specialist in architecture and the exhibition goes into real technical aspects of the construction of the house and it is difficult to follow. On the other hand, I didn't like the style: overcharged, heavy and "lugubre", will be the best adjectives to discribe this visit. I cannot imagine how the first owner of this place could enjoy living there. Question of taste.. probably. I will definitely recommend to visit the Palacio da Pena and if you have an extra time the Nacional Palace of Sintra in the historic center. They are more interesting to understand the history of Portugal and Sintra.