Classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the Quinta da Regaleira is an estate located in Portugal, near the historic center of Sintra.
On the property, there are numerous constructions such as grottos, benches, and wells around the romantic palace and chapel, plus a splendid park that features lakes and fountains.
With its elegant creations, this place is one of the most famous tourist attractions of Sintra.
The estate has had many owners through history. Originally belonging to a family of wealthy merchants from Porto, in 1892 it was sold to Carvalho Monteiro, who was eager to build a resplendent palace.
The Italian architect Luigi Manini helped him to recreate the 4-hectare estate, so Monteiro could works that reflected his interests.
He added new features to the buildings that allegedly held symbols related to the Knights Templar, alchemy and Masonry.
The enigmatic buildings that Manini designed were in Renaissance, Gothic and Manueline styles, and their construction was started in 1904, with their completion coming in 1910.
Waldemar d’Orey bought the property in 1942, and he ordered a restoration to the constructions so he could use it as a private residence for him and his family.
The place was sold once again, to the Japanese Aoki Corporation in 1987, and the corporation closed the estate to the public.
Ten years later, it was acquired by the Sintra Town Council, and the property was again put under an extensive restoration project to be finally opened in June 1998 for hosting cultural events.
The Regaleira Palace is also known as “The Palace of Monteiro the Millionaire” because of its best known former owner, António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro. Gothic pinnacles, capitals, and gargoyles are the essential elements that decorate the impressive octagonal tower and palace facade.
The construction has a basement, a ground floor and three upper floors, which gives the castle a total of five levels. The basement contains the male servants’ bedrooms and storage rooms. The kitchen is also there, with an elevator for lifting food to the ground floor.
The living room, billiards room, dining room, some smaller rooms, and a balcony are on the ground floor. Also, there are a series of hallways that all connect the rooms and several stairways. The bedrooms and a dressing room are on the first upper floor.
Carvalho Monteiro’s office, also the bedrooms of the female servants, are situated on the second floor. On the third floor, there is a small room with access to a terrace and an ironing room.
The chapel on the estate is a Roman Catholic chapel and it’s placed in front of the palace’s main façade. The style of the architecture of the chapel is akin to that of the castle’s construction.
The interior of the chapel is gorgeously decorated. It contains stained glass windows, and the walls are decorated with lavish frescoes. Among the other religious depictions, some of the frescoes represent Saint Anthony and Teresa of Ávila.
The chapel floor itself is decorated with descriptions of the Order of Christ cross, and an armillary sphere surrounded by pentagrams. Although its a small size, The Regaleira Chapel, remains a gorgeous construction.
The woods that immediately surround the property are well managed but are left to themselves in the upper parts, because of Monteiro’s belief in primitivism.
Four hectares of the property consists of a densely planted park with footpaths. Throughout the park can be found symbolic and interesting structures.
In several places in the park, there are fountains and two artificial lakes which were added by Monteiro. The Aquarium is perhaps the most extravagant and was built as a naturally embedded structure.
Once, it was the most famous and influential naturalist property in Regaleira, but unfortunately today the Aquarium is poorly maintained and out of use.
An extensive and enigmatic system of tunnels is a part of the park. The tunnels include entry points to the chapel, “Leda’s Cave,” (which lies beneath the Regaleira Tower), grottoes and the Waterfall Lake.
A series of underground walkways, connect the other tunnels to the “Initiation Well.” The Initiation Well or inverted towers (there are two of them on the property) resemble underground towers lined with stairs.
They have never been used as water sources. Mostly, their purpose was to perform ceremonial Tarot initiation rites. The larger one of the two wells contains a 68.8 ft deep spiral staircase. These two wells are also connected to each other with tunnels.
There are a number of small landings in the wells, and their spacing is linked to Tarot mysticism, with an exact number of steps in the stairs.
The second one, which is smaller, contains a series of ring-shaped floors which are connected to each other with straight stairs. There is a video for “Cavaleiro Monge” which was shot at the palace, made by Fadista Mariza.
There is also a book, “Codex 632,” which has references from Quinta da Regaleira, written by José Rodrigues dos Santos. Also, the larger well of the Initiation Wells appears on video for the song “The Living End” by Ava Inferi.