The Quinta da Regaleira Palace and Park Group, also known as the Monteiro Castle, is one of the most famous and visited sights of Serra da Sintra in Portugal. The word “quinta” in Portuguese means nothing more than a “farm”, but after visiting this complex no one can call it a farm.
Quinta da Regaleira
Villa Regaleira in Portugal has an interesting history dating back to 1697. It was at this time that Jose Leithu bought a vast plot of land on the edge of Sintra, where such an illustrious estate is now located.
In 1715, this site at an urban auction bought Francisco Alberta de Castres. He planned to carry out a water supply network, with which it would be possible to supply water to the city.
The owners of the estate change many more times, and in 1840 it passed into the possession of the daughter of a wealthy merchant from Porto, who received the title of Baroness Regaleira. It was in honor of her that the farm got its name. According to historians, it was at this time that the construction of the estate began.
Nevertheless, all large-scale construction work on the Quinta da Regaleira estate took place already at the next owner of this land. He was a Portuguese millionaire and philanthropist Antonio Agusto Carvalho Monteira. The entrepreneur bought the estate in 1892. And most of the buildings were erected in 1904-1910 with the assistance of Italian architect Luigi Manini.
In the XX century, Regaleira Manor in Sintra changed several more owners, and in 1997 it was bought by the city municipality. After the reconstruction, the estate became a tourist attraction open to visitors.
Palace – it is he who opens the gaze of tourists immediately from the entrance to the complex. Among the surrounding nature, the snow-white stone, which darkened from time to time, from which the Regaleira castle was built, looks especially impressive.
The architecture of the palace
Like many other buildings in Portugal, the Quinta da Regaleira palace is characterized by a mixture of different styles. The architecture of Villa Regaleira (photos of the castle clearly demonstrate this) shows Romanesque and Gothic styles, there are elements of the Renaissance and Manueline (Portuguese Renaissance). The four-story palace has a luxuriously decorated facade: it is decorated with Gothic turrets, gargoyles, capitals, various figures of fantastic animals. The rich decoration of this stunning structure is the handiwork of a sculpture by Jose de Fonesca.
On the first floor of the palace there was a master bedroom, a dressing room, a living room, as well as a hunting room and the Kings hall. After the 1910 revolution in Portugal and the abolition of the monarchy, Monteiro kept the throne in the Kings Hall, never ceasing to believe in the return of the king. In the same room, as one can understand from the preserved chandelier, a billiard room was equipped.
The hunting room was used by the owners of the villa as a dining room. In this room there is a huge fireplace, crowned with a statue of a young man with hounds. A fireplace, walls, ceiling – everything here is decorated with images of hunting scenes, figures of animals.
The second floor of the Quinta da Regaleira palace was reserved for the private rooms of the members of the Monteiro family.
On the third floor there was a library with a very rich selection of books and a collection of musical instruments. The alchemist’s room was also equipped – a small room from which there was access to the terrace.
What has been preserved from the premises of Quinta da Regaleira now? The windows are tightly clogged and covered with dark cloth, the heirs sold out all the books (a selection of Camoens’ volumes is in Washington, in the Library of Congress). What happened to the alchemical laboratory and its equipment is not known to anyone. Now the laboratory is closed to the public, and only from the roof of the Regaleira castle manages to look at the terrace and sculptures of mythical creatures located there.
The basement of the Quinta da Regaleira palace contained the bedrooms of servants, storage rooms, a kitchen and an elevator for delivering food to the dining room.
Park, grottoes, tunnels
Quinta da Regaleira Park
On the territory of the complex there is a unique multi-tiered park, the upper sections of which are groomed forest thickets, and the lower ones are a man-made zone. In the neighborhood with lakes, caves and underground passages, towers, altankas are located in the park, and benches are installed along smooth paths. There is also an alley where classical sculptures are depicted, depicting the gods – Volcano, Hermes, Dionysus and others.
In this part of the Quinta da Regaleira garden, many symbols are hidden that are related to different religions and religious rites, alchemy, Freemasonry, the Templars and the Rosicrucians, as well as world famous works (for example, the Divine Comedy).
The most mysterious object, due to which many call Quinta da Regaleira a Portuguese miracle, is the Well of Initiation or the Inverted Tower 30 meters deep. The spiral gallery surrounding this descent has 9 levels, each of which has 15 steps. These levels are symbols of hell and paradise, which Dante wrote about.
The well bottom is decorated with the coat of arms of Monteiro – the Templar cross placed inside the star. On the wall is an image of a triangle recognized as a sign of Masons. It is believed that they were ordained Masons in the Inverted Tower, although documentary evidence was never found.
Four tunnels are laid from the well bottom – they stretch to the grottoes and to another well. These tunnels are carved into the massif, their walls have brown and pink tones – the color of marble. In some places, their arches contain interspersed stone brought from the coastal area of Peniche. All of them carry out a certain functional task: they symbolize the path from darkness to light, from death to resurrection, they seem to unite different components of the outlandish world. The tunnels available for visiting are backlit.
On the territory of the complex there is another well, which is called Imperfect. It is worth looking at it, as you can immediately conclude: the inept builder in a random order piled a pile of stones against the wall. But behind the “awkward” windows of the well, a spiral ramp is hidden, which is another road from darkness to light.
“Portal of two guards”
The portal of two guards is an interesting structure, consisting of two towers and a gazebo between them. Under this arbor, a tunnel to the underworld is hidden, and the entrance to it is guarded by newts. Not far from the Portal you can see the unique Terrace of celestial worlds, where a spacious area is equipped – from it you can see the palace, the park and most of its buildings, lakes, waterfalls.
Chapel in the Quinta da Regaleira park
In Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra, there is one small structure located opposite the castle and made in the same style. Above the entrance to the chapel is placed a high relief “Annunciation”. The back wall of the chapel is decorated with a relief image of the castle, which stands above the flames of hell – it is a symbol of the trinity between the upper world, the intermediate spiritual world and hell.
In the interior of the chapel, mosaic deserves special attention. It depicts the coronation of Mary by the resurrected Jesus, and to the right of the altar are the images of Saints Theresa of Avila and Anthony of Padua. The floor of the chapel is decorated with tiled emblem of the Order of Christ and the image of the armillary sphere (one of the main symbols of the coat of arms of Portugal).
Lake in the park
During the inspection of the park, it may seem that the freakish grottoes and lakes located here are created by nature. This is not so: they were all created by people, and stones for their construction were imported from the coast of Portugal. As for the lakes, two artificial reservoirs are made as if they are a natural part of the cliff. Unfortunately, now this interesting object is in a state of conservation. In the local park, even the vegetation was chosen for a reason: Monteir collected the plants mentioned in the Camoes books.
How to get there
The most convenient way to get to the estate from Lisbon. In Quinta da Regaleira (Portugal), located in the city of Sintra, from the capital of the country is not a problem. There are 2 options.
Suburban trains that follow to Sintra depart from Lisbon with a frequency of 10 minutes. You can choose the landing place that suits you best – Oriente, Rossio and Entrecampos stations. The cost of the ticket is 2.20 €, and the journey time is about 45 minutes. From the train station in Sintra, you can get to the estate like this:
25 minutes to walk – the path is very simple, the road passes along the picturesque hillside with relict forests;
drive 1.3 km by taxi;
take the 435 bus. One-way fare is 1 €, round trip -2.5 €.
By car, go to Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra from the capital of Portugal and take the A37 to Mafra, and from there take the N9. Travel time is about 40 minutes.
Please note that there are several more palaces in the city that have something to see. In one of them the royal family lived for a long time – this is the National Palace of Sintra .
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Opening hours and cost of visiting
Location of the Quinta da Regaleira complex: R. Barbosa do Bocage 5, Sintra. From April to the end of September it is open for inspection daily from 9:30 to 20:00 (entrance – until 19:00), from October to the end of March – from 9:30 to 19:00 (entrance – until 18:00) .
Keep in mind that Sintra is always cooler than Lisbon. Before you travel, be sure to check the weather forecast to be prepared for the rains and fogs that are quite common in this area.
Entrance to the territory of the Quinta da Regaleira palace and park complex for children under 5 years old is absolutely free.
For adolescents aged 6-17 years, the cost of the ticket is 4 EUR, the same amount will need to be paid to pensioners.
Adult ticket costs 6 EUR.
What else do you need to know?
Facade of the Quinta da Regaleira Palace
Upon entering the territory of Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra, visitors are handed a free map of the estate, which is especially needed if you intend to take an independent tour. Please note that a walk and inspection will require at least 3 hours: there is a vast territory, a fabulously beautiful castle, a large number of underground grottoes. Walking around the estate is very interesting, you can climb the towers, take interesting photos.
But on your own it can be very difficult to understand the meaning of various symbols, and there are a lot of them here: symbols of Freemasonry, mystical signs of alchemy and ancient religions. That is why it is preferable to visit Quinta da Regaleira with a guide. Visiting and reviewing the estate is a must-have program for any tour of Sintra.