Sintra Tour : Quinta da Regaleira
One of the most popular day trips from Lisbon is to go on a Sintra Tour. This beautiful charming town is one of the most visited places in Portugal because of its unique atmosphere, gorgeous views and spectacular palaces and monuments all in one place.
One of the less known jewels of Sintra is Quinta da Regaleira, a private property that maintains lots of mistery and charm since the early 20th century when it was built like we see it today.
Nested in the Sintra mountains, it was a work commissioned by the property owner Dr. Carvalho Monteiro to the famous Italian architect Luigi Manini, a man involved in the construction of the La Scala Opera in Milan and Quinta da Regaleira must be seen as an extension of his owner personality.
Carvalho Monteiro was a mysterious, eccentric man born in Rio de Janeiro that inherited millions from his family, money that was invested in Brazil where he was a preeminent dealer of precious stones and coffee beans.
The property as we can visit today was built by in six years between 1904 and 1910 and has many enigmatic buildings that contain numerous references to alchemy, the Masonry and the Knights Templars. We cant find a common reference style since it contains elements that range from the 15th century Manueline to figures associated with the Roman empire era.
A visit to Quinta da Regaleira must start in the property gardens that have many statues, figures and secret corners to discover. They are organized as a miniature microcosmos where both the light and darkness coexist: a series of tunnels , caves and secret passages that represent the underground world as well as magnificent gardens populated by exotic species that mimic Eden.
Closer to the big mansion the woods are well organized and obey to a scheme, however we climb to the northern side a sense of wilderness and anarchy prevails to depict the most ancient eras of mankind.
The garden at Quinta da Regaleira is populated by beautiful benches carved in stone, bridges,lakes and fountains. Each of these structures bears a deep symbolism and its a piece of art by itself so bring your camera ready as you will surely take a lot of pictures.
One of the most preeminent structures is the gardens is the catholic Chapel. From the oustide you can see walls decorated in a similar fashion to the mansion with intricate elaborated figures carved in the stones.
Inside there are religious paintings on the walls as well as windows with paintings depicting scenes from the bible and saints. Mansonery symbols as well as the Order of Christ cross are also relevant elements spread in its interior walls giving it a dual sense of both pagan and Christian feel.
A complex tunnel system is also one of the top attractions of this place that make it so unique. There are multiple entry points that can be easily accessed but sometimes not easily found, and that what makes them special since you will immerse you will immerse on a journey with an active role.
The tunnels play also a big role since they connect perhaps the most intriguing structures in the gardens: the initiation wells.
At Quinta da Regaleira the initiation wells are probably the most sought structures by visitors as they look both enigmatic and beautiful and are one of the post cards of the estate.
They consist of towers kept in the underground that have a downward spiral layout that includes stairs. Many interpretations have been made about the meaning of the wells and the most accepted, confirmed by testimonials is they played an important role on Mansonry and Esoterica ceremonies.
The biggest well is almost 100 feet high and we can descend to its bottom using a circular staircase where two adults can hardly pass each other.
Another well , called the unfinished well, is not as big as the first and its made of stairs that connect a series of floors that have a circular shape.
After visiting the garden you can turn your attention to the big mansion that has exterior walls decorated with a large amout of elements that are worth a more detailed view. From Gothic tops,to e gargoyles and Manueline elements like ropes, it all leads to a spectacular eight side tower that impresses every visitor.
Inside the palace there are five levels: the one you access when entering the main door, three above and one bellow. They are all worth exploring with many gothic and Manueline details carved on the walls, fireplace and handles that were inserted in doors that have in some places are covered with red velvet.
Ready for a visit to Regaleira?
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