The Quinta da Regaleira is one of the most surprising of all Sintra’s monuments. Located on the outskirts of the town, it was built 1904 e 1910, in the last days of the Portuguese monarchy.
This romantic property formerly belonging to the Viscondessa da Regaleira, was acquired and enlarged by António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro (1848-1920) as his favourite country estate. His vast fortune earned him the nickname of Monteiro dos Milhões, (Moneybags Monteiro). He commissioned this unique project of house and landscape from the Italian set-designer and architect Luigi Manini (1848-1936) whose genius, along with the mastery of sculptors, stonemasons, craftsmen who had formerly Palace Hotel do Buçaco, created this magical place.
The structure’s façade is characterised by exuberantly Gothic pinnacles, gargoyles, capitals, and an impressive octagonal tower.
The palace contains five floors (a ground floor, three upper floors, and a basement). The ground floor consists of a series of hallways that all connect the living room, dining room, billiards room, balcony, some smaller rooms, and several stairways. In turn, the first upper floor contains bedrooms and a dressing room. The second upper floor contains Carvalho Monteiro’s office, and the bedrooms of female servants. The third upper floor contains the ironing room and a smaller room with access to a terrace. Finally, the basement contains the male servants’ bedrooms, the kitchen (which featured an elevator for lifting food to the ground floor), and storage rooms.
Enter the Labyrinth – Quinta da Regaleira
Entry to the estate is via the Old Stable block – a beautifully constructed structure in its own right, and far bigger than most people’s houses. A myriad of paths criss-cross the estate, providing a labyrinthine feel above ground. The sensation intensifies once you head into the subterranean maze beneath the estate. The tunnels have several lavishly crafted entrances – all give a feel of journeying deep into the dark depths of the underworld.
The Initiatic Well is probably the most iconic and impressive structure in the Quinta da Regaleira gardens. The 27 meter spiral shaft, an inverted tower, descends deep into the darkness below. What did people use for light before they had torch apps on their phones? To quote the guidance map you get free with your ticket “this hallowed space full of esoteric and alchemical associations, makes the relation between Heaven and Earth intensely felt”.
The Grotto of the East is well hidden beneath the surrounding, overhanging shrubbery, and is another beautifully constructed artefact that appears as if nature has simple done her own thing.
Every time you visit this place,you will discover something new!