Quinta da Regaleira

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The palace, as seen from the bridge over the lower gate.

Quinta da Regaleira is an estate located near the historic center of Sintra, Portugal. It is classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO within the "Cultural Landscape of Sintra". Along with other palaces in this area (such as the Pena, Monserrate and Seteais palaces), it is one of the principal tourist attractions of Sintra. It consists of a romantic palace and chapel, and a luxurious park featuring lakes, grottoes, wells, benches, fountains, and a vast array of exquisite constructions. The palace is also known as "Palace of Monteiro the Millionaire", from the nickname of its first owner, António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro.


Luxuriant vegetation next to the lower gate.

The land that is now Quinta da Regaleira had many owners through time. But in 1892 it belonged to the Barons of Regaleira, a family of rich merchants from Porto, when it was purchased that year by Carvalho Monteiro for 25,000 réis. Monteiro wished to build a bewildering place where he could gather symbols that would reflect his interests and ideologies. With the assistance of the Italian architect Luigi Manini, he designed the 4-hectare estate with its enigmatic buildings, believed to hide symbols related to alchemy, Masonry, the Knights Templar, and the Rosicrucians. The architecture of the estate evokes Roman, Gothic, Renaissance and Manueline architectural styles. The construction of the current estate commenced in 1904 and most of it was concluded by 1910.

The estate was sold in 1942 to Waldemar d'Orey, who used it as private residence for his extensive family and ordered repairs and restoration works for the property. In 1987 the estate was sold once again, to the Japanese Aoki Corporation and ceased to serve as a residence. The Aoki Corporation kept the estate closed to the public for ten years, until it was acquired by the Sintra Town Hall in 1997. Extensive restoration was promptly initiated throughout the estate, which opened to the public in June 1998. Cultural events also start to be organized in Quinta da Regaleira. In August that year, the Portuguese Ministry of Culture classified the estate as "public interest property".


The Regaleira Palace (Portuguese: Palácio da Regaleira) bears the same name as the whole estate. Sometimes, the name "Regaleira Palace" is used to refer to the entire estate.

The façade is characterized by exuberantly Gothic pinnacles, gargoyles, capitals, and an impressive octagonal tower.

The palace has five floors (a ground floor, three upper floors and a basement). The ground floor contains a series of hallways connecting the living room, dining room, billiards room, balcony, some smaller rooms and several stairways. In turn, the first upper floor contains bedrooms (Carvalho Monteiro's bedroom used to be the one with a balcony) and a dressing room. The second upper floor contains Carvalho Monteiro's office, and female servants' bedrooms. The third upper floor contains the ironing room and a smaller room with access to a terrace. Finally, the basement contains the male servants' bedrooms, the kitchen (which possessed an elevator for lifting food to the ground floor), and storage rooms.


Side view of the chapel.
The roof and tower of the chapel.
The Regaleira Chapel.

The Regaleira Chapel is a Roman Catholic Chapel, and stands in front of the palace's main façade. Its architecture is akin to the palace's. The interior of this Roman Catholic temple is richly decorated with frescoes, stained glass windows and lavish stuccoes. On the frescoes are represented Teresa of Ávila and Saint Anthony, as well as other religious depictions. The floor contains representations of the armillary sphere of the Portuguese discoveries and the Order of Christ Cross, surrounded by pentagrams. Despite its size, the chapel has several floors.


Quinta da Regaleira Diagram. Legend:
Buildings- A) Regaleira Palace; B) Regaleira Chapel; C) Greenhouse; D) Cultursintra Foundation offices; E) Coach Houses; F) Arts Workshop;
Open-air structures- G) Chimeras' Court; H) Bridge over the lower gate; I) Loggia; J) Ibis Fountain; K) Fount of Abundance; L) Regaleira Tower; M) Terrace of the Celestial Worlds and Reservoir; N) Guardians' Entrance;
Fields- O) Gardens; P) Threshold of the Gods; Q) Tennis Court;
Others- R) Upper gate; S) Main gate; T) Lower gate; U) Labyrinthic Grotto; V) Eastern Grotto; W) Aquarium; X) Unfinished Well; Y) Initiation Well; Z) Grotto of the Virgin;
Lakes- α) Unnamed Lake; β) Waterfall Lake;

Most of the four hectares of land in the estate consist of a densely treed park crossed by myriad roads and footpaths. The woods are neatly arranged in the lower parts of the estate, but left wild and disorganized in the upper parts, reflecting Carvalho Monteiro's belief in primitivism. Decorative, symbolic and leisure structures can be found everywhere throughout the park, all located within a few minutes walk from the palace.


The park contains an extensive and enigmatic system of tunnels, which have multiple accesses including the grottoes, the chapel, the Waterfall Lake, and the "Leda's Cave" beneath the Regaleira Tower. The "Initiation Well" (see next section) connects with other tunnels via underground walkways.[1]

Initiation Wells[edit]

The initiation Wells (or initiatic wells or inverted towers) are two wells, a larger one and a smaller one, that descend into the ground like underground towers lined with stairs. These wells do not serve as water sources, but were purely recreational, serving in Tarot initiation rites. The tunnels described above connect these wells to each other and to various caves or monuments around the park. Of the two wells, the larger one contains a 27 meter spiral staircase spaced by small landings. The spacing of these landings, combined with the number of steps in the stairs are linked to Tarot mysticism. The smaller well has straight stairs that connect ring-shaped floors levels with one another. This well is also called the 'unfinished well.' A structure similar to these wells is the Pozzo di S. Patrizio in Italy.

Lakes, Fountains and the Aquarium[edit]

Water is a frequent element in the estate. Two artificial lakes and several fountains were designed in the property. One of the most interesting and extravagant features of the estate is the Aquarium, built as if it were naturally embedded in a rock. Once one of the most important naturalist presences in Regaleira, the Aquarium is nowadays in poor state of conservation.


Fadista Mariza shot her video for "Cavaleiro Monge" at the palace and its grounds.

Quinta da Regaleira is referenced in José Rodrigues dos Santos' book "Codex 632"

The "Iniatic Well" appears at the end of a video for the song "The Living End" by Portuguese band Ava Inferi.

See also[edit]


  • Portuguese Association for Investigation
  • "Rotas & Destinos" magazine
  • Quinta da Regaleira: Sintra Portugal. Fundação Cultursintra
  • Anes, José Manuel (1998, interviewed by Victor Mendanha). O Esoterismo da Quinta da Regaleira. Lisbon: Hugin
  • Anes, José Manuel (2005). Os Jardins Iniciáticos da Quinta da Regaleira. Lisbon: Ed. Ésquilo
  • Adrião, Vitor Manuel (2006). Quinta da Regaleira: A Mansão Filosofal de Sintra. Lisbon: Via Occidentalis Editora
  • Veigas, Ana Sofia Fernandes (2007), Para uma Antropologia do Símbolo Estético: o paradigma da Quinta da Regaleira, Lisbon, Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa

External links[edit]


Coordinates: 38°47′46.87″N 9°23′45.71″W / 38.7963528°N 9.3960306°W / 38.7963528; -9.3960306