Places that are so beautiful they bring you to tears are few and far between, but the palace, park and labyrinths that make up Quinta da Regaleira did exactly that to me. After the pyramids and city of Teotihuacan in Mexico this is the second most beautiful set of structures I have been fortunate enough to see. I have already written about Sintra in Portugal and how truly magical a place it is but Quinta da Regaleira surpassed every other palace and castle that occupy this UNESCO World Heritage town.
The Palace at Quinta da Regaleira was built between 1904 and 1910 by Carvalho Monteiro. Monteiro wished to build a beautiful palace, chapel and also a magical landscape of labyrinths, grottos and towers. The estate is spread over four hectares, the palace and surroundings are steeped in occult and masonic history and symbolism. The architecture is incredibly gothic. The palace itself is laid out over five floors with beautiful turrets dotting the rooftop. The stone-masonry and plaster-work inside the palace is unparalleled with anything I have seen before. The small chapel that stands near the main house is built in a similar style and has several tunnels that run underground into other grottos and natural waterfalls.
Under the entire park runs a series of tunnels with multiple points of access and towers dotting entrances. The ‘Initiation Well’ (sometimes referred to the ‘Inverted Tower’) is one of the most spectacular underground structures, this is a 27 metre staircase that leads from the park deep into the underground and links up with the other tunnels, grottos and another more natural looking staircase that is also roughly 25 metres in height. The structures help create an aura of secrecy, even the initiation well is entered by pushing a large stone out of the way that looks like it has never been moved! Artificial lakes, bridges, benches and many beautiful towers dot the landscape that surrounds the palace.
On the day of my visit I spent around four hours walking around the entire park, I was in a daze, totally mind blown by the beauty we humans can create at times. The relationship of these structures to the beautiful landscape surrounding them adds to the otherworldly nature of Quinta da Regaleira. I could write on end about this beautiful place and never be able to do it justice, I will just reiterate the same point I have been spouting at anyone who would listen these past two months, Sintra is somewhere everyone should visit. My photos are awful and do not do this place justice!
GPS: 38.79627, -9.39597