Quinta da Regaleira: just full of surprises
I loved absolute everything about Quinta da Regaleira, except for the moment when I discovered we’d seen everything and our visit was over. This place is just so full of surprises that you’ll quickly feel like a child again. There are winding stair cases, hidden paths and even underground caves (bring a flash light!). No kidding!
Oh and you could see the Castelo dos Mouros from the garden:
A great plus for me was the excellent exhibition put up in the Main House, explaining the construction of the building and the ideas behind it.
But I had just as much fun outside, wandering through the garden, discovering secret pathways and finding the famous well consisting out of nine levers that are supposed to symbolize the nine circles of hell, nine sections of purgatory and nine skies of paradise out of Dante’s “Divine Comedy”.
There’s also a smaller well called the “Unfinished Well”. It consists of straight staircases connecting the circular floors to each other. The spacing of the stair’s landings and the number of steps are also believed to be influenced by Masonic dogma.
The wells lead to a complex tunnel system running the entire length of the gardens and were are also called the “Initiation Wells” by those who believe that these were used for the initiation rites for the Knights Templar.
The Knights Templar were medieval knights during the Crusades but their order was dissolved in 1312 by Pope Clement V. However, in the 18th century, the Freemasons revived the symbols and traditions of the Knights Templar. A compass set upon a Knights Templar cross is actually found at the bottom of the well, which was also Carvalho Monteiro’s coat of arms. Some consider this as proof that Monteiro was a Freemason who also believed in Rosicrucianism.
About Quinta da Regaleira
The enchanting Quinta da Regaleira is a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated in the Old Quarter of Sintra. It was previously owned by Viscondessa da Regaleira, then it was bought by António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro, a Brazilian coffee magnate also known as ‘Monteiro dos Milhões’ (‘Moneybags Monteiro’) because of his wealth.
Monteiro commissioned Italian architect Luigi Manini to design the vast four-hectare estate. Manini’s design incorporated Roman, Gothic, Renaissance and Manueline architectural styles. Construction started in 1904 towards the end of the reign of the Portuguese monarchy, and was completed in 1910.
After the death of Carvalho Monteiro, Waldemar d’Orey acquired the estate and it stayed within his family until 1987 before it was bought by a Japanese business for private events. In 1997, the Sintra local government reclaimed the estate and made it open to the public in 1998.
Quinta da Regaleira has an elaborate façade designed with pinnacles, carved gargoyles, gothic turrets and other ornate elements. The main villa’s interior consists of five floors. Also found within the estate is a chapel. Both the villa and the chapel are intricately decorated with frescoes, wall stuccoes and stained glass windows.
Perhaps the main highlight in this estate is what is found behind the villa—intricate gardens filled with fountains, statues, grottoes, caves, ponds—and mystery. The gardens of Quinta da Regaleira are not just known for its beauty, but also for the hidden symbolisms that literally lie beneath the grounds. The mystical garden’s design is said to have references to the Knights Templar, the Masons and the dark alchemy.
I absolutely loved Quinta da Regaleira and if you’re visiting Sintra with kids, I think this is the place to bring them.
Address: Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra
Admission: €6 for adults, various discounts are available
- January, November and December: 10 am – 5.30 pm
- February, March & October: 10 am – 6.30 pm
- April – September: 10 am – 8 pm
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We were offered complimentary tickets to Quinta da Regaleira by the Camara Municipal de Sintra. All opinions expressed are, as always, my own. The links to Booking.com and TripAdvisor are affiliate links. If you book a stay through them, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting the site!