I have visited over 158 cities in 22 countries, but no other place can compare to the emotions that visiting Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra has awakened in me. Sintra is a gorgeous portuguese town situated less than an hour drive from Lisbon, the country’s capital. Taking a day trip to visit Sintra’s palaces is not an obvious choice for a lot of travellers arriving to Lisbon, yet once you find out about the beauty of that spot, I’m sure you won’t want to miss it.
Short announcement for cruisers:
I have visited Sintra & Quinta da Regaleira on an Msc Excursion (LIS27) while cruising with Msc Virtuosa to Lisbon. In my personal opinion, it was the best excursion I have taken during that cruise, so I definitely recommend it, yet it requires a lot of walking up and down so any movement impairments would be a problem.
Sintra, a colorful town
Sintra itself is a picturesque gem on the map of Portugal and even a simple walk around it will bring you into the atmosphere of calmness and joy that will brighten up your day from the beginning. In 19th century, it was one of the first cradles of romantic architecture of Europe. It’s built upwards, on a hill, and the higher you climb, the greater views will be awaiting you. What’s interesting is that a lot of antique villas built in the old portuguese style are currently for sale there and some of them, already acquired by new lovely owners, are waiting to be renovated to claim their original shine back again.
Fonte dos Pisões
On the way to the Quinta da Regaleira Palace, you will find several public water fountains, such as Fonte dos Pisões. Water fountains are a very common phenomena around Sintra and offer free drinkable to those passing by, in addition to the beautiful design traditionally made from tiles, what Portugal is perfectly known for. This particular fountain, Fonte dos Pisões, owes is current look to the reconstruction from 1931, yet dates back as much as to the years 1600, when it was first designed.
Quinta da Regaleira
As you approach the fairytale palace of Quinta da Regaleira, designed and built in the late 1800s, you will start wondering whether it’s not too beautiful to be true – it really takes the breath away. Once property of António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro, an eccentric millionaire with interest in alchemy, mysticism and esoterism, it symbolized the path to enlightenment; and when I laid my eyes on it, I understood why. very clearly. The mystical lines on a grey surface divinely contrast with the green scenery of the trees peaking out from behind the gothic fence of its surrounding garden. It’s like a wild call of art combined with nature; it drives you to the inside.
The visit to the palace is not free and you must purchase an entry ticket for either visiting on your own or a guided visit (PS. If you purchased the Msc Excursion LIS27, the ticket is included in your excursion price). A ticket for a free visit costs 10 euro for adults, 5 euro for seniors over 65 and kids from 6 to 17, meanwhile seniors of over 80 and kids under 6 years of age benefit of a free entry. A guided visit with a group on the other hand costs 8 euro, however you should check the availability for particular dates online at regaleira.byblueticket.pt, as it only starts at specific hour and the spots are limited. The palace is open for visits between 10 AM and 6.30 PM.
Your visit starts from the stables – since that’s where the entry and cash register is located, and you’re immediately introduced to the marvelousness of the architecture. From there, there are several directions you can choose to start your visit if you’re enjoying it on your own.
The Initiation Well resembles an underground tower lined with stairs. Your first thought might be that it could have been used for water sources – yet it actually never was, and its meaning gets a tone darker there. The well was used for ceremonial purposes and mystic rituals related to Tarot practices, among others. As the owner of the palace was deeply rooted into esoteric practices, symbolism can be seen in every single detail regarding the place. 10 levels of the spiraling staircase refer to the 10th and final rung of heavens in Dante’s Inferno. Even the number of stairs, 139, has its own meaning and significance. The sum of 1+3+9 equals 13, the number of death and rebirth in mystic philosophy.
Gruta do Oriente
Upon reaching the bottom of the well, you will find yourself in a tunnel leading to a grotto, a cave striking us with its irreplaceable beauty that can only be found in nature. I cannot decide what is more picturesque in Quinta de Regaleira even after the longest debate; whether it would be the natural assets or the marvels of architectural design.
Lago da Cascata
A limitless imagination wouldn’t possibly fruit all of the wonders that can be found in Quinta da Regaleira, as even a small lake leading up to a waterfall has its own moment there. Its uniqueness makes it undoubtfully the most beautiful one I have seen in the whole of Europe, while its water, even though appearing on a green base, is as clear as it is see-through.
Torre da Regaleira
The tallest tower serves the purpose of a viewpoint from which you can admire the landscape of the whole of Sintra and its surroundings. However, it was built with a peculiar reason: to give those who climb it the feeling of finding themselves at the peak of the world, as it hovers above everything. I must say the mission succeeded: and the views from up there are unforgettable forever.
Gruta da Leda
Leda’s Cave is believed to be a sacred, mystical spot. The divine posture of Leda represents fertility and lust, and its water is believed to empower the femininity and fruitfulness of the woman’s sacred organs. In Greek Mythology, Leda has had a sexual encounter both with her husband and Zeus, in form of a Swan, on the same night. That is why in art she is often represented with a swan, just like in this case.
The chapel of Saint Trinity is a wonderful exhibition of gothic design, with a very original bench sitting at its side. The mosaics at its interior depict Christian scenes representing Jesus, Saint Mary, Saint Therese, Saint Anthony, as well as the miracle of Our Lady of Nazareth. The outside bench on the other hand is a wonderful spot to sit and admire the outstanding garden centre of the property which leaves no place for imagination: there can’t be anything more beautiful than this.
The Palace itself can be most certainly called an everlasting wonder of design. It doesn’t come as a surprise that it was classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO within the Cultural Landscape of Sintra. The abundance reflected in the style of the palace justifies the fact that it’s also sometimes called The Palace of Monteiro the Millionaire, Palácio do Monteiro dos Milhões, after its owner. The interior of the palace is available to the public as well, holding valuable expositions and the wonderful shape of the rooms, including what I remembered the most, the Music Hall.
Who wouldn’t want to wake up everyday and have their coffee at this balcony to the joyful music sang by birds?
There aren’t many places in the world that come with such an extensive area of beauty, abundance and romanticism at its best. If there was one place in the entire world where I would love to spend the rest of my life, it would be precisely Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra, and I’m not even exaggerating. Unfortunately for now, since I am not yet millionaire, I have to satisfy myself with simply travelling there to visit – and I’m sure I’ll be returning plenty of times to Sintra just for that.
I genuinely hope you enjoyed the personal tour of visiting Quinta da Regaleira with me and you won’t have to think twice of what to do in Sintra, even if you choose it just as a day trip from Lisbon. I warmly thank you for taking your time and spending it with my words, my photos and presence. If you’d like to read my poems about visiting Quinta da Regaleira you can give me a follow on Instagram @milenacorleoneofficial, where I share more than just photos. Make sure to connect with me on Twitter, Pinterest and if you particularly appreciate my effort and contribute to sharing wonderful gems of the world, you can Buy Me A Coffee to make it possible for me to continue creating content.