A photographer’s dream: Quinta da Regaleira

A few weeks ago I had the chance to go to Portugal. One of the things I was told to visit there was an estate called “Quinta da Regaleira” close to the historical center of Sintra, which is located about 25 kilomters (15,5 miles) from Lisboa. It is a somehow weird and magical place; for sure it is a place where photographers can spend ages, picturing every intriguing inch of the estate which is a UNESCO world heritage site.

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Quinta da Regaleira consists of a main building and some smaller buildings, including a chapel. But the most interesting part of the estate is the huge park surrounding it. Inside the park you can find lakes, ponds, caves, grottoes, wells, a tunnel system and a lot of fountains – in short: It is a place where kids, those who stayed young at heart and those who love taking pictures can explore their little hearts out. The palace is now known as the “Palace of Monteiro the Millionaire” after the former owner António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro, who bought the estate 1892. Together with the Italian architect Luigi Manini he turned the garden and buildings into something magical, decorated with a huge variety of mystical symbols related to alchemy, Masonry, the Knights Templar and the Rosicrucians.

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After just six years of constructing the masterpiece, who former belonged to a lot of different owners, such as the Viscountess of Regaleira, who was a descendent of a wealthy merchant family from Porto, was done. The estate served as a private residence for a long time and for different owners but was always closed for the public. In 1997 the Town Council of Sintra bought it and did some reconstruction, before it finally opened to the public. Today it is one of the most famous tourist attraction in this area.

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I have to admit that I was stunned. Even though we spent about three hours inside the park and the buildings, it was just not enough. There’s so much to see and to discover, especially the different underground tunnel systems with their hidden entrance points. Creepy but very beautiful were the Initiation Wells or “inverted towers” who never served the purpose of a well but are leading to waterfalls and ponds. You would miss something if you don’t spend some time at Quinta da Regaleira. Even kids are going to have fun there. If you want to get a full grasp of the whole estate and its purpose, it might be a good idea to join a guided tour.

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More information
Quinta da Regaleira
R. Barbosa do Bocage 5
2710-567 Sintra, Portugal
www.regaleira.pt

The Quinta is open daily from 9:30 am to 8 pm, the entrance fee for adults is 6 Euros, kids up to eight years don’t have to pay an entrance fee. Those between nine and fourteen years pay 3 Euros.

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