Quinta da Regaleira Sintra | Portugal Visitor
Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra
Quinta da Regaleira – Exotic Palace Inspired by the Templars
The Quinta da Regaleira is part of the UNESCO World Heritage cultural landscape in Sintra and one of the Lisbon area’s most exotic palaces.
The palace is an eclectic mix of architectural styles: Egyptian, Gothic, Islamic, Manueline and Renaissance. Two Initiation Wells in the spacious gardens are inverted towers and places of Knights Templar and Freemason initiation ceremonies. The buildings and the garden are full of occult symbolism. Indeed, the journey from the garden up the hill to the palace and chapel represents a process of spiritual enlightenment.
The house was acquired at the turn of the 20th century by the wealthy Brazilian-Portuguese businessman António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro (1848-1920), who commissioned the inverted towers and restored the house and gardens together with Italian architect and theatrical set-designer Luigi Manini (1848-1936).
The land where the palace now stands was once a donation to the Knights Templars by Portugal’s first king, Afonso Henriques. The existence of the property on the site goes back to the 17th century.
Carvalho Monteiro, who made his fortune in Brazil selling coffee and precious stones, purchased the estate in 1892 from the Viscountess of Regaleira, an aristocrat from a family of rich merchants in Porto.
Monteiro was deeply interested in the philosophy of the Knights Templars, Freemasons (both he and Manini were masons) and the Rosicrucians.
Together with Manini he set about creating a mystical palace and garden on the 4-hectare estate.
After Monteiro’s death in 1920, the house passed to another wealthy owner, Waldemar d’Orey before it was purchased in 1987 by the now defunct Japanese construction company, the Aoki Corporation. Sintra Town Council acquired the property in 1997.
The Regaleira Palace (Palácio da Regaleira) aka the Palácio do Monteiro dos Milhões (“Palace of Monteiro the Millionaire”) is a romantic edifice of five floors including the basement.
The façade is a frenzy of Gothic features and rises to an octagonal tower. The main entrance to the Chapel is similarly embellished.
Inside are several ornate rooms including the dining room, billiards room and living room all on the ground floor. Highlights are the Rococo wooden ceilings and Art Nouveau tiles.
Carvalho Monteiro’s office is on the first floor with the other floors and basement an assortment of bedrooms, sparse servants’ quarters and the kitchen.
Located in front of the façade, the Chapel is designed in the same elaborate style. Within are frescoes depicting saints as well as references to the Knights Templars and the Age of Discoveries seen in the pentagrams and the armillary spheres depicted in the decorations.
The chapel has a superb fresco of the resurrected Christ. The Templars did not believe in a dead Christ and no Templar church depicts Jesus on the cross.
Underneath the chapel is a crypt with a chessboard-patterned floor similar to the Templar flag.
The grounds have two wells constructed more like inverted towers which were not built to serve as water sources. The largest is nearly 30 meters deep. It consists of 9 flights of spiral stairs representing the eight knights and the first Grand Master, Hugues de Payens, who founded the Templars back in 1118.
Experts believe the wells were used for Masonic-Templar initiation ceremonies where the initiates would descend the stairs blindfolded. At the bottom is an octagonal star and within a Templar Cross.
Then the initiates would have to find their way from this darkness to light through the labyrinth of caves and tunnels that connected the wells.
This journey represents the spiritual path from darkness to light and from ignorance to enlightenment. The endpoint of this journey would be the chapel which is connected to the labyrinth where the initiate is welcomed into the fellowship.
The lovely garden is full of more occult symbolism in its grottoes, lakes, fountains and classical statues.
Rua Barbosa du Bocage 5
2710-567 Sintra, Portugal
Tel: 219 106 650
Hours: open daily from 10 am – 5.30 pm (closes 6.30 pm; last entrance 5.30 pm); adults 18 €. There is a discount for Lisboa Card holders. Usually only the main floor of the palace is open to visitors. Guided tours by experts in a variety of languages are available Tuesday to Saturday.
Other palaces in Sintra include the Palácio Nacional de Sintra, the Pena Palace, the Palácio de Monserrate, and the Palácio de Seteais – now a luxury hotel. Further attractions are the Castle of the Moors, the impressive Museu de História Natural de Sintra, the recent NewsMuseum, the tranquil Convento dos Capuchos, and the Museu Anjos Teixeira which displays the sculptures of two great contemporary Portuguese sculptors, father and son Artur Anjos Teixeira (1880-1935) and Pedro Anjos Teixeira (1908-1997). The Camara Municipal de Sintra (Sintra Town Hall) is also a wonderful piece of architecture completed in 1909 in a pleasing fusion of Manueline and Romantic styles.
Getting to Sintra
There are local buses from Sintra to Cascais (#417), Estoril (#418) and Mafra. From Sintra Station a number of buses run by Scotturb around the sights. Bus #433 (Urbana Sintra) runs into historic Sintra on a circular route. Bus #434 (Pena Tourist) leaves the station 3 (in winter) or 4 times an hour for Sintra Castle, Pena Palace, Vila and Sintra NewsMuseum. Bus #435 also connects to various destinations in the historic center. To get to Cabo da Roca take either bus #403 or the open top tourist bus, Circuito da Roca.
Sintra Station connects on the Sintra Line to Rossio Station, Oriente, Entrecampos, Sete Rios and Campolide.
There are trains to Sintra approximately every 15 minutes from Rossio on weekdays and every 30 minutes on weekends, with the journey between Lisbon and Sintra taking 39 minutes. On weekdays after 8.38 pm the service is every 30 minutes.
The first train from Rossio is at 6.08 am with the last train at 1.08 am. The last train from Sintra to Rossio leaves Sintra at 12.44 am.
Portugal Hotel & Hostel Accommodation
Recommended accommodation in Sintra must include the Tivoli Palácio de Seteais. It is a luxury 5-star hotel set on a hilltop with superb views of the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace. Facilities include a swimming pool, tennis courts and an equestrian center.
Book Hotel Accommodation in and around Sintra
The four-star Pestana Hotel offers a golf course and outdoor pool.
Tivoli Sintra Hotel, also four-star, has well-appointed guest rooms and superb views complete with a recommended restaurant and bar.
With three stars the VIP Inn Miramonte Hotel has an outdoor pool and games room.