Thursday, January 12, 2017

Visiting the Incredible Quinta Da Regaleira in Sintra, Portugal

While researching Portugal and Sintra, there was one image that popped out to me as something I had to see in person - the Masonic initiation well at Quinta Da Regaleira.

Image from Flickr

I was immediately thrilled and enchanted by the idea of this spot - a winding staircase with moss covered stone walls and hidden passageways... and was determined to find it when we were visiting Sintra.

The Quinta Da Regaleira is beautiful and magical. The entire property is gorgeous - with outstanding park grounds full of paths and tunnels, lakes and grottoes, fountains and structures, including a chapel.

Originally owned by a family of wealthy merchants from Porto, it was purchased by the eccentric António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro in 1892. Carvalho Monteiro then transformed the property to reflect his interests - the architecture now includes symbols relating to the Knights Templar, alchemy, and Masonry. The buildings on the property reflect many different styles, including Roman, Gothic and Renaissance - making the property wholly unique and interesting at every turn! 

A view of the house and chapel tower from the gardens.

The gardens are a wonderland - secret tunnels (including the one that lead to the initiation well), narrow pathways that suddenly open up to amazing fountains and grottoes, and subtlety integrated symbols of masonry and alchemy. We spent several hours just wandering around, and we still felt like we missed a lot of the property.

The front of the chapel. We entered it through a tunnel and then came up a stone spiral staircase into the chapel! 

I climbed up the tower of the Terrace of Celestial Worlds to get a better view of the  Portal of the Guardians.

The Torre da Regaleira was structured so visitors would feel that they're at the center of the world.

A quiet path with stone archways.

 Catching a glimpse of another structure through a moss covered tree.

 One of the many tunnels you're free to explore!

One of the best things about the property is that very little is off limits. See a staircase you want to climb? Go for it! Want to explore down a narrow pathway? You're welcome to. Wonder what's behind the waterfall across the pond? Use the exposed rocks to cross over. It's an amazing place for anyone who likes to explore!

One of my favorite spots in the gardens was the "Lago da Cascata." When we visited, the algae on the water was thick but cleared off where the waterfall ran, creating what reminded me of a magical fairyland! 

And then, of course, was the well. We actually stumbled upon it while following the tunnel from behind the Cascade Lake waterfall... the tunnel leads you right to the bottom of the well. It was the most crowded part of the gardens, but that did not detract from how awesome it was.
Looking up from the bottom of the well.

 About 1/3 of the way up the well.

 Almost to the top!

 Looking down to the bottom of the well. At the bottom, there is a design that looks like a compass.

We visited in mid-October, so everything was lush and green and damp. It's definitely a must-see while you're in Sintra, in fact, I would say that Quinta da Regaleira is one of my top places to visit in Europe!

The main house is filled with artwork, interesting architecture and symbols, and even has a tower terrace with fantastic views and up close looks at the gargoyles and animal shaped rain spouts!

The main house.

The facade!

One of the structures on the property wall walkway.

Animal statues on the roof terrace.

The property wall's walkways.

Gorgeous view of Sintra and the valley from the roof terrace.

 If you like to explore, plan for a a solid half to full day there, and make sure you pick up a guide to the property when you purchase your tickets! It has a ton of great information, as well as a map that directs you to some of the coolest features of the property. Just be sure to spend a little time following random paths, too, since there are so many amazing things to see! The entrance fee is €6, and it is probably the best €6 we spent for a visit.  

Here are a couple other really good blog posts about Quinta da Regaleira:
The Sintra Portugal page has a great overview, as well as information about hours, tours, and pricing.
Os Viajantes has a lovely post on the property, more great photos, as well as a copy of the property map!

And, find more Portugal posts HERE!  

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