If you’re visiting Lisbon and want to escape the city for a while, visit Sintra – a marvelous UNESCO World Heritage Site, where amazing nature hosts beautiful palaces.
Even though tourism is blooming here, it is one of the places you shouldn’t miss as it is a site full of history, colors, romance and magic.
Just don’t make a common mistake – don’t try to visit as many objects as possible in a day. There is so much to see, that’s true, but you won’t be able to enjoy the experience fully if you just consume site by site in a rush.
After wandering around the town for a while and eating some delicious Pastel de Nata, we decided to explore the most intriguing of the palaces – Quinta da Regaleira.
We didn’t even notice how time went by as we walked countless paths going in circles through the beautifully maintained garden and forest, leading to the dark underground caves, tunnels, lakes, mystical wells, finding clues and symbols of alchemy, Masonry, the Knights Templar on our way…
When we thought we’d seen it all, we found something even more astonishing in this magical place. And at times following the path we felt quite lost as it led us to completely different directions than we were planning to go.
“The Palace of Monteiro the Millionaire” is a work of an eccentric and really rich man António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro who wanted his summer house to reflect all the ideologies he was interested in.
A mix of Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque architecture also holds a number of symbols related to alchemy, Masonry, the Knights Templar, Rosicrucians… Definitely one of the most mystical places I have ever visited.
Four hectares of adventure. The garden is nicely arranged in the lower parts, with all kinds of flowers, trees, sculptures, ponds, but when you reach the upper parts you find yourself in the wild woods.
Wandering around you will also encounter a number of entry points leading to a system of underground tunnels. Some are well lit and some are sunken in darkness and each is more exciting than the other leading to various monuments and caves.
Underground tunnels will also bring you to two initiation wells, believed to be used for ceremonial purposes, such as Tarot initiation. It was believed that this was the place where earth connected with the sky. Moreover, the spiral staircase reminds of the illustrations of Dante’s “Inferno”. Once you step inside, it is easy to understand why this place is the highlight of the estate.
It is well worth a 40-minute ride by train from Lisbon to Sintra to visit this amazing place. We spent our afternoon exploring and it gave us enough sensations and memories for the whole day. Surely, you can manage to run through the main sights quickly and visit some more castles but I’m quite sure you won’t regret if you spend more time in this mystical estate.