Sintra is a charming Portuguese village whose Historic Center has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995, located within the hills of the Serra de Sintra. Hidden in these hills and in the middle of all nature (most trees are pines 🌲), you can find extravagant palaces, historic buildings and ruins of a Moorish castle 🏰. It’s a mandatory tourist destination for anyone visiting Lisbon because of the combination of fascinating historic buildings and beautiful natural landscapes.
The most important tourist spots in Sintra are the Palácio Nacional da Pena (also known as Pena Palace) and the Castelo dos Mouros. When I went to Sintra for the first time, I only visited these two places. But the second time, in 2016, I also visited Quinta da Regaleira, and I didn’t regret it! Who likes stories of princes 🤴🏼 and princesses 👸🏽, needs to go there because it’s like going into a fairy tale or one of the Harry Potter movies.
Quinta da Regaleira is capable of being one of the most enigmatic places in Sintra. This historic farm has a palace surrounded by magnificent gardens, lakes, towers, fountains, caves, wells and some enigmatic constructions linked to Freemasonry and the Templars.
There is little information about the history of Quinta da Regaleira. It’s known that it already existed in 1697, but not with this name. The current name of the farm was given to it in 1830 by Manuel Bernardo, the owner at the time. In 1892 it was acquired by António Augusto de Carvalho Monteiro, heir to a large family fortune 💰. Between 1904 and 1910 (in the last period of the monarchy) he carried out most of the existing buildings on the farm, together with the Italian architect Luigi Manini, who already had the works of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the Real Teatro de S. Carlos or the Hotel do Buçaco. The architecture and art of all the buildings inside the farm were designed to look like a paradise, highlighting the predominance of neo-Manueline and Renaissance styles.
Most important points
Every corner of Quinta da Regaleira has its charm and appeal. The gardens are made up of a huge diversity of tree species which are the result of the microclimate of the Serra de Sintra and the constant fogs that give it an aura of mystery.
★ Regaleira Palace: located at the entrance of the farm, is the main building and has a total of 6 floors (-2, -1, 0, 1, 2 and 3). It’s possible to visit the interior and contemplate all the rooms (the hunting room, the renaissance room, the smoke room, the kings room and the music room). Inside the palace you can take photos without flash.
★ The chapel: neo-manueline style chapel with emphasis on scenes of the Annunciation and the Coronation of Mary, located close to the palace.
★ Initiative Well: is an 27-meters underground gallery with a spiral staircase consisting of nine levels supported by sculpted column. The name of the well was attributed because it’s believed to have been used in rituals to initiate Masonry. This place also symbolizes the maternal womb from which life comes and the grave to which it will return.
★ Underground Paths: a vast network of tunnels connects several buildings on the Quinta. They are all very dark paths and a little scary but there are some with lights.
★ Portal of the Guardians: scenic structure topped by two lateral turrets and a central lookout, under which one of the entrances to the Initial Well is hidden.
Right at the entrance to the farm is the ticket office to buy the tickets (10.00h to 17.30h during the summer – you better check on the official website). Prices vary a little but the general ticket is about 6€ and gives access to the palace and gardens (4€ for students and seniors). The best is to ask for or take a map right away to make it easier to plan the visit and order the attractions.
Firstly, I went to the Regaleira Palace and saw all the rooms. It takes about 1 hour and in all rooms there are signs with information. When we left the palace we explored the gardens, we walked inside tunnels and we went to Initiative Well that is awesome! I’m a little fearful when it comes to bugs but it wasn’t difficult to walk through those dark tunnels because I was having fun. We were exploring the farm during all morning.
Some essential tips
- Comfortable clothes 👕 and shoes 👟 because you walk a lot
- In some areas of the farm, especially in the caves, the floor may be moist and slippery
- Go, take lots of photos and have fun!
If you go to Sintra, don’t forget to add Quinta da Regaleira to your plans. It fits perfectly into a 1-day itinerary along with Palácio Nacional da Pena and Castelo dos Mouros. Quinta da Regaleira is really worth a visit for strolling around the palace, its mysterious gardens, the caves and tunnels.