June 7, 2021

Quinta da Regaleira, an enchanted place.

Portugal is a country with a rich and varied heritage, from historical to natural and cultural heritage. In the past, different people and civilizations were here, leaving extraordinary marks of their presence. But there are also newer places that surprise us with their stunning beauty.  In all of its extension, Portugal has it all and today I'm going to tell you all about this magical place that seems straight out of a fairy tale, the Quinta da Regaleira.

Located in Sintra, near the historical center, it was a dream come true for the millionaire António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro who, together with the Italian architect and scenographer Luigi Manini, built this magnificent palace in neo-Manueline revivalist style, surrounded by leafy gardens.

Historically speaking, this intervention in Quinta da Regaleira took place in the beginning of the 20th century. Before that, there was an older palace in this place that belonged to the Baroness of Regaleira.

My visit to the Quinta wasn't planned; in fact, it was a last-minute decision, but it was certainly an incredible surprise! For those in Lisbon (as I was at the time), Sintra is easily reached on a train ride of about 30 minutes.  When you arrive at the station, there are several transport options to take you directly to the Quinta, but it is also possible to take a long walk there. Sintra is a very beautiful city, and if you choose to walk, you can see other places and take breaks to taste the famous “queijadas” (traditional local cakes)!

You won't need any signs to know you're close to the Quinta as the palace can be seen from a distance and it’s immediately possible to confirm its magnitude and beauty.

Get your ticket at the entrance. The Quinta has guided tours from Tuesday to Saturday (previous booking required), audio guides for the 30 listening points scattered around the park or, and that would be my suggestion, free visits. This last option allows you to enjoy the place at your own pace, since you can actually stay inside the Quinta with no time restrictions. A map with all the visiting points is provided so you can decide on your own route.

Although you will feel you’re in a fairy tale, the reality is that we don't have wings to fly, therefore make sure you wear comfortable shoes in order to enjoy this experience.

And there we go, the tour begins!

For those visiting Quinta da Regaleira for the first time, the spot that everyone wants to see is its ex-libris, the Poço Iniciático (Iniciatic Well), but anyone who thinks this is the only point worth visiting is wrong. During my journey through the various points, it was impossible not to fall in love with all the space!

Checking my map, I chose to postpone my stop at the Iniciatic Well and first explore its surroundings and the top of the Quinta. From the Gruta da Virgem (Grotto of the Virgin) you can have one of the best views of the entire place.

The path now is downwards until you reach the Iniciatic Well, the attraction which is an inverted tower that sinks into a spiral staircase. Undoubtedly, any expectations you may have about it will be exceeded! As you go down the stairs and look around you are rewarded with the natural light from the top and the extraordinary architectural details.

Those who think the beauty of the park is all in sight, forget about the underground route. At the Portal dos Guardiães (Guardians’ Portal), considered one of the entrances or exits of the Iniciatic Well, we can start exploring underground. Although the cave is illuminated, it's better to proceed with caution and have a support light, the flashlight of your phone will be enough. The route is fantastic, but it was halfway there that I found the place that fascinated me the most. More or less in the center of the park we find the Lago da Cascata (Cascade Lake), a place where a small waterfall flows and where it's possible to cross the lake by stepping on the stones that serve as a small path from one end to the other. Without a doubt, it was my favorite bit of the whole Quinta.

I continued my underground route to visit the Poço Imperfeito (Imperfect Well) and cross the entire Gruta do Oriente (Orient Grotto), which was the end of this route. But the visit does not end here. In addition to the various green sites not yet visited, there are also the labyrinths to be explored, the visit to the Torre da Regaleira (Regaleira Tower) and the Castle itself is still missing.

My route takes me to the Castle at the end of my visit, walking through the vast garden. Do you remember the view of the Castle that I mentioned at the beginning, when you approach the entrance to Quinta da Regaleira? You will have the same view, but closer and definitely, a more intense one. I suggest that the visit to the Castle is your last stop, after exploring the other spots and the garden, as time flies and in an enchanted place like the Quinta da Regaleira, the time passes by easily and it's better to take advantage of the natural light to get to know the outdoors.

The cherry on top of the visit is the café/restaurant with a terrace to enjoy delicious food in a surreal environment.

To Sintra and to all its visitors, Quinta da Regaleira is one of the most emblematic and magical places in the city. Being someone passionate about fantasy and enchanting stories, I always had Quinta da Regaleira on my list of places to visit, and fortunately I had the opportunity to clear it off my list. Sometimes last-minute decisions turn out to be the best ones, right?