Mystic craze at Quinta da Regaleira
Up next on our Sintra Hills tour was probably the most elaborate and funkiest fantasy-come-true.
Quinta da Regaleira.
Built between 1898 and 1912 by capitalist and philanthropist Carvalho Monteiro, also known as “Monteiro the Millionaire“.
Money met a visionary.
Italian architect Luigi Manini, who has also constructed the La Scala of Milan in Italy (where I cried to the dying swan from the Bolshoi), turned the vision of Monteiro into a private residence.
It took 14 years of work.
Close(r) up. Manueline features, Gothic style and Romanticism in architectural harmony.
Once the property of a wealthy family of merchants from Porto, the Regaleira clan, Carvalho Monteiro bought the estate in 1892 and created a residence out of this world, magical and full of surprises.
Baroness da Regaleira. She sold the house to Carvalho Monteiro. Interestingly, in 1987 the property is sold to the Japanese corporation Aoki (the sophisticated Japanese have a nose for great stuff), before it changes hands again and finally belongs to the municipality of Sintra.
The estate is now an open adventure park for adults. (Subjective opinion of author.)
Towers (extending underground!), mystical names, inverted wells, meaningful sculptures, elaborate rooms, waterfalls, fountains, a temple of flora, labyrinthine walkways, grottos, a promenade of the gods, a chapel, pavilions…
…all those places create an enigmatic monument.
I am letting myself get lost in the world of Carvalho Monteiro. Behind me, one of the towers of the Portal of the Guardians.
The Portal of the Guardians, composed of twin towers flanking a centre pavilion with a sweet fountain, is where we entered the hidden entrance to the well.
The so called Initiation Well. Which isn’t a well, but an inverted tower!
This well was never a water source but landing for Carvalho’s tarot initiation ceremonies. One of the most mysterious places and probably the strangest structure at the Quinta.
The tower is extending downwards and sinking 27 meters into the ground.
Bring a flash light, wellies and an umbrella.
Walking the spiral stairway, in damp winding corridors, it is moist and dripping.
Be prepared to conquer the mystique between heaven and earth – and puddles of water – whilst ascending to daylight.
The estate is a work of art, reflecting Monterio’s interests connected to mythology, mysticism, the Knights Templar ideology and filled with strange symbols.
Finding secret entrances and signs, climbing turrets or walking through dark corridors of the underworld is oh so fun!
The Regaleira Tower marking Leda’s Grotto.
Rapunzel Dasza, lass dein Haar herunter” is what’s going on here. Did The One make it up to the pretty maid in the tower? Yes! Using my braided hair? Maybe.
The intricate entrance porch of the mansion is carved out of limestone. It is said to epitomize the idea of travel (couldn’t agree more), inspired by the Age of Portuguese Discoveries.
The residence is most of all a celebration of masonry.
The octagonal turret on the roof has an architectural connection to the Knights Templar Church of Tomar.
The turret is surrounded by eight decorated pinnacles featuring naturalistic and fantastic figures. Hm, that’s me!
From here, enjoy the view. And spot Pena Palace.
There is a lot of eye candy. For dog lovers, too.
Some ideas are more pretty and practical than others. The imaginative gargoyles.
The garden, apparently created as an image of the cosmos, philosophical and poetic, surprises with many magic and mysterious places.
Like the Chapel, in the background, holding symbols from Carvalho’s fascination with the Templar Order. The crypt also connects to the main house through an underground passage. Exciting!
Quinta da Regaleira is a maze of fun with a vast array of exquisite constructions.
A sculpted rope looks like it has been tied around that wall.
Portugal’s best artists, wood and stone sculptors came together to create the summer residence of the Carvalho Monteiro family.
The CM emblem. A pretty piece with the initials of António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro and his wife Perpetua Augusta.
This sign with the CM initials was mounted all over their former drawing room.
I had to think of my dad, who, not born rich but talented, does the same marking to all kinds of collected antique items, like silverware, frames and old wooden boxes. When walking through my parents home, one might think we are a noble family.
The library had mirrors in the floor and was visually puzzling.
The house has all aristocratic luxuries, rooms with fireplace, the billiard table and portraits – but even so, exploring the garden triumphs.
That is not to say that if I had appropriate financial means, I wouldn’t buy it without hesitation!
FAQs: Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra 2710-567. There is a free parking area and bus stop opposite the residence.
Admission: 6 Euros per person. 4 Euros for the lucky above 65.