017 – Top things to do in Sintra – PT – Regaleira, the most romantic palace

Lets just start by saying that all has a purpose! Is romantic for a purpose, it is fascinating also for a purpose. It has many enigmas and symbols ready for you to discover. This is Regaleira Estate or better known as Quinta da Regaleira


This is Quinta da Regaleira in 5 images:

017.1 Quinta da Regaleira – the palace

017.2 Quinta da Regaleira – the many paths

017.3 Quinta da Regaleira – the wells

017.4 Quinta da Regaleira – the arranged and the primitive gardens

017.5 Quinta da Regaleira – the reflections

Click on the map or here to get a better view

To get to the Regaleira, even from Lisbon, you need first a train to Sintra and from there a 20-30 min walk to the place itself. Is not the same walk as for Pena Castle where you climb, and you climb. Here is more like a promenade.

017.6 Pisoes Waterfall – “engraved with love”

As you walk there are many things to see (check the previous article) but the starting point of Regaleira is marked by something looking like an Elfish Tower.

017.7 Pisoes Loggia – hiding a very beautiful azulejos (blue painting on white ceramic tiles)

From here we keep our slow climb until, from the trees, a very odd-looking palace shows its grey “bricks”.

017.8 Quinta da Regaleira – palace and walls

There are several entrances, but I took the upper one because I wanted to get a better view from the outside, before getting in and rushing toward the wells.

017.9 Purr, the feline guardian.

Tip: be in front of the entrance (upper is the best one, see map) at 10 a clock in the morning. This way, from there you get a ticket (you can pay by card), get a map, and walk to the Initiation Well before all other tourists race you there with their selfie sticks and flashes…

017.10 Initiation Well, from above

Once here, grab some photos, and watch yourself as you descend into the well itself as it may be slippery especially in the morning.

017.11 The bottom of Initiation Well

The Initiation Well (Initiatic Well) it was never used for water purpose but rather for tarot ceremonials.

017.12 Exit from the Initiation Well to the caves

This well, as well as the other, are inverted towers, with the Initiation Well going 27 meters deep into the ground. There through some tunnels it communicates with the Unfinished Well and an Aquarium that is out of service…

017.13 The Unfinished Well

The caves are a neat touch and they are not natural, none is actually, as I stated in the beginning, all is done purposefully and what a beautiful result!

017.14 The underground passage, or the caves.

From the caves, there are many places where you could end up outside. The longest route is to the Eastern Entrance.

The shortest path is Guardian’s Gate. Even the name transports you into a magical realm. Imagine playing here a game of Magic the Gathering / D&D / even Catan.

017.15 Guardian’s Gate

Now finally done with the wells, you can get back on discovering the gardens. And you still have a lot to see, even if the space is not that big (as compared to Versailles in France) there are many paths, statues, hidden corners where you can whisper your love.

017.16 Love is everywhere

What I love the most is how the estates park has all that you would think to put in your own park if you were super rich. Well I might put a train around the estate… even in 1910 when the garden and palace was finished, trains were very known technology. But the noise would damage the mood for sure.

017.17 Vegetation and hidden towers

At Quinta da Regaleira is very hard to imagine having one camera with one film that has only 10 shots; Where would you take those photos? Because remember, if you did not focus well, or the light was not well measured, the photo is bad in the end. Also if you bring a collection of filters to play with them, you could sit here for hours (if not the crowded atmosphere).

Maybe this is why for each palace in Sintra I took one full battery for my DSLR and an SD Card😊 And I did not have time to record video or do time lapse. In fact, at Regaleira is the only place I did not do time lapse.

017.18 Hortensia

Flowers are also another attraction of Regaleira, but not their exotic nature, but beauty of the simple, and well known. Regaleira might not shine at floral beauty like Monserrate or even Pena, bug is more primitive than the others, more virgin like. You have to bend low, scratch your hand, stay with one foot on rocks and the other on the soft forest ground.

For more exotic treats, you can have a sneak peek inside the Greenhouse.

017.19 Peek inside the Greenhouse

017.20 Beautiful azulejos on the entrance

017.21 Fuchsia

Now that you saw the park, the wells, the towers, the gardens, the statues the colorful fountains should be the next in line:

017.22 A mosaic of pointy rocks decorating the fountains

I do not know how drinkable is that water but the best way to enjoy the surroundings, now that most tourists are in the park, is to sit at the terrace.

017.23 The palace and the soup

Very personal opinion: I do not like the exterior of the Palace of Regaleira. That one is a miss. Is one of the ugliest I’ve seen, and I did see a share. It has to do with the grey and the dark lines that make it look like is made of blocks, but that black glue, or paint it ruining (for me) the view. I saw many houses like that and they don’t look photogenic…

But I do like the towers and how they escape the trees.

017.24 Regaleira Tower and Regaleira Palace

I don’t know if you have noticed, but there are at least 2 styles of constructions inside the estate.

The worm yellow bricks constructions and the cement grey Gothic like architecture.

017.25 Statues and details

Inside the Palace there are no surprises, except heavy wood decorations that are also warm and inviting. All is looking great but a bit outdated for the 1900’s…

017.26 A small chamber with a piano

017.27 King’s room with the kings and queens of Portugal

There are many things to see in the Palace and discover some of the history of Portugal but there is one last thing that is filled with symbols around here (that is well known).

017.27 The Chapel.

Right from the entrance, before you step inside, look up and you will see the Illuminati symbol. Also, inside, on the Stained Glass to the left, you can see the story of the birthplace of Nazare (article here) a very famous town from Portugal better known today by waves as high as mountains.

017.28 Reflections

If the Initiation Well (or inverted tower) did not convince you to come here and check out this beautiful place, it could be because of the Palace :). Eh I am joking, this place is really beautiful, and if you could book it for like a week only for youself… Madonna actually owned a Palace right next to Regaleira. Regaleira also was owned by a Japanese corporation, that suffered bankruptcy so sold it to the city of Sintra.

I personally was in Sintra 2 times. Once on route to Lisbon and then I saw the main things like most people (Pena and the center), but then at the night before my first day of walking and discovering Lisbon, I searched more about Sintra. And I saw two things that I really loved and wanted to see in real life.

One of them was the Well and the spiral staircase and the second thing, well you will see it in a future article.

This Well, or something like it is also depicted in one of the most famous Romanian folkloric novels: Harap Alb. There, the main hero, a prince, is made by the devil in disguise to descend into the well and drink from the fresh water. Once the novice price does that, he gets trapped and becomes the slave of the devil. So because of this, Harap Alb goes through many adventures and challenges in order to regain back his status. Most folkloric stories are not really that original so maybe, maybe the Italian architect Luigi Mannini knew the story also.

017.29 Grey, black and colors

Well, at the end of this article, I have a few tips:

If you are into photography, you don’t need a big zoom lens so save the weight. You do need some fast lenses as most is under the shade of the trees and the palace is dim also. You could use a tripod but there are very narrow paths and the estate is not that big so many tourists will block you. But, on the main alley that features the statues and the Palace, you can take a time lapse.

Also don’t come by car, is to much hassle. You don’t climb that much and is not that far away. For some I would say for Pena Castle to take the taxi or car or something, because that one is really high up.

Hope you enjoyed this article and see you in the next one.



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