Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra

5 out of 5 stars 32 Reviews

2710-567 Sintra, Portugal +351 21 910 66 56

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  • Regaleira Estate - Initiation Well
    Regaleira Estate - Initiation Well
    by anaanes
  • Regaleira Estate - Initiation Well
    Regaleira Estate - Initiation Well
    by anaanes
  • Regaleira Estate - Detail
    Regaleira Estate - Detail
    by anaanes
  • toonsarah's Profile Photo

    A garden full of mystery

    by toonsarah Updated Jun 23, 2009

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    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

    In the garden of the Quinta da Regaleira The Initiates' Well, Quinta da Regaleira In the labyrinth of tunnels, Quinta da Regaleira Looking out from the Gate of the Guardian Detail, Quinta da Regaleira
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    Initiation Well

    by solopes Updated Dec 18, 2013

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    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.

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    Quinta da Regaleira

    by bambino36 Updated Sep 18, 2004

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    Classified as world heritage by UNESCO, the Quinta da Regaleira is a very special place.
    This magnificent mixing of constructions built in the middle of the forest, in the beginning of the 20th century, is the result of of the magical dreams of Antonio Augusto Carvalho Monteiro, it's owner.
    The gardens and constructions celebrate the glorification of everything wich is sacred by humankind and reflected on portuguese mythological and esoteric traditions.
    This is a place to be felt and not to be seen.

    Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra
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    Quinta da Regaleira

    by rp6686 Updated Oct 20, 2003

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    Quinta da Regaleira origins date back to 1697 when José Leite purchased a huge tract of land at one end of the Old Quarter of Sintra.
    The property was bought at a public auction in 1715 by Francisco Alberto Guimarães de Castro who diverted water from the mountain to supply a fountain on the property. In the possession of João António Lopes Fernandes in 1800 it appears some thirty years later in the possession of Manuel Bernardo from whence it derived its current name, having formerly been known as the Quinta da Torre or the Quinta do Castro. It was then purchased by the daughter of Allen in 1840 (a wealthy trader from Porto) who was later given the title of the Baroness of Regaleira.
    At the beginning of this century, however, Quinta da Regaleira was purchased by the capitalist António Augusto de Carvalho Monteiro, a man of enormous culture with a degree in Law from the University of Coimbra who had amassed a fortune in Brazil. Carvalho Monteiro, who was profoundly inspired by the glorious national epic poem, whose expression at the time was found in the "revivalist" taste of neo manueline architecture, took inspiration for the construction of the manor house and its respective chapel both from the structural and decorative eclecticism of the Pena Palace and the neo manueline style of the Hotel Palácio do Buçaco, designed by Luigi Manini. It was Carvalho Monteiro who invited Manini to design and build the house at Regaleira. The project was completed in 1910.
    This is a assemblage of styles and constructions (gardens, wells, towers, statues, mysterious grottoes, etc.), which Manini succeeded in imbuing with exceptional characteristics. Albeit having a semblance of a scene from opera, Quinta da Regaleira has alchemical and sacred connotations.
    Quinta da Regaleira, which was purchased in March 1997 by the Sintra Town Council, is currently used as the head office of the CulturSintra Foundation.

    Price: 10 Euros (under 26 and older 65: 5 Euros)

    Quinta da Regaleira
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    An "American" Palace

    by solopes Updated Dec 18, 2013

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    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!

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    Peculiar Aesthetic

    by solopes Updated Dec 18, 2013

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    "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.

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    Regaleira Estate

    by anaanes Updated Mar 20, 2013

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    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.

    Regaleira Estate - Initiation Well Regaleira Estate - House Regaleira Estate - Sightseing Regaleira Estate - Initiation Well Regaleira Estate - Detail
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    Quinta da Regaleira

    by salinhopt Written Sep 8, 2003

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    This is a fabulous assemblage of styles and constructions ( gardens, wells, towers, statues, mysterious grottoes, etc.), which Manini succeeded in imbuing with exceptional characteristics. Albeit having a semblance of a scene from opera, the Quinta da Regaleira has alchemical and sacred connotations.

    The origins of this Quinta (palace and estate) which is currently known as the Quinta da Regaleira date back to 1697 when José Leite purchased a huge tract of land at one end of the Old Quarter of Sintra.

    Sintra - Quinta da Regaleira

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    Quinta da Regaleira - The Palace

    by bambino36 Updated Dec 7, 2004

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    This gothic and neo-manuelin style Palace is really a treasure. The gothic design forces us to look above in direction to the sky.
    It is said that inside this Palace was practiced the cult of the Holy Graal. The knights promised to keep the secret of the Holy Graal.

    Palace of Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra

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    Quinta da Regaleira - Patamar dos Deuses

    by bambino36 Updated Dec 7, 2004

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    The visit to this universe starts at Patamar dos Deuses, a place where twelve statues (gods of the greek-roman mythology) are lined up along one side and must be understood as the Zodiac.
    From here starts a visit to the gardens, where we can be surprised by symbolic lakes, fountains, towers, terraces, grottos and many elements.

    Patamar dos Deuses, Sintra

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    The Gardens

    by solopes Updated Dec 18, 2013

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    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.

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    A Folly on a Grand Scale

    by calcaf38 Written Feb 27, 2006

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    This is what is known as a Folly: an architectural and botanical pastiche. The Quinta is a somewhat gloomy estate sprinkled with chapels, caves, wells, and statues, all on a steep hill. It is very Victorian, and a bit pointless: although it was built with care and resources, it still belong to the "Lawn Ornament" wing of art and architecture. The inside of the mansion can be skipped.

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    Quinta da Regaleira

    by slothtraveller Updated Jun 27, 2012

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    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!

    Entrance to Quinta da Regaleira
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    Park of the Quinta da Regaleira

    by ptitetoile Written Jul 6, 2004

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    The park is wonderful!!!! Exotic with its numerous plants and flowers but also full of myteries that need to be discovered along the various paths.
    There is a vast ensemble of turrets providing us with breathtaking views. There are fountains, smal water places and a lot of grottos... At some places, it is possible to descend in the heart of the earth by an immense spiral shaped staircase that looks like an inverted tower. And down below, there is a network of labyrinth grottos that we have to cross in the darkness until we reach the light, reflected in the water of lakes of surprising beauty....

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    Quinta da Regaleira * Regaleira Farm

    by J_Antunes Updated Mar 21, 2009

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    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).

    Useful informations
    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€.

    Quinta da Regaleira, Imagem Antoniovi, flickr.com
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