Sintra, a picturesque mountain town just northwest of Lisbon, is one of my favorite places on earth.  As a child, I often made the short train trip from my aunt’s house with my family  to pass the afternoon wandering in the town, eating the traditional pastries (more on those in a future post!) and seeing the sights.  Boasting castles, palaces, royal retreats, estates, mountains and nature parks, this place is “magical”…and even that term seems too weak a description!

On my recent visit to Sintra with my husband, we visited the Quinta da Regaleira, a romantic palace, chapel and grounds.  Dubbed “The Palace of Monteiro the Millionaire” – a nickname based on its best known former owner, António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro – the architecture of the palace and surrounding buildings is exuberantly Gothic.

Quinta Regaleira facade

Quinta Regaleira

walking along the balcony of Quinta Regaleira

architectural details at Quinta Regaleira

From inside the palace, there are spectacular views of the surrounding forest and mountains…with the Castelo dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors) not far away!

through the window at Quinta Regaleira

The Palácio da Vila (Town Palace) seems also a stone’s throw away.

view of the Palacio de Villa as seen from Quinta Regaleira

As interesting as the inside of the palace was, I found the gardens of the estate even more fascinating and memorable.  As we climbed through the grounds, formal paths…

statue in gardens at Quinta Regaleira

Gave way to a rambling forest and towers with turrets…

photo of turret at Quinta Regaleira

Where you could get a bird’s eye view…

the view from the top

And see all the way to the Atlantic!

view to the ocean from Quinta Regaleira

The grounds also contain several initiation wells.  Used for ceremonial purposes, including Tarot initiation rites, these wells are like inverted towers and never contained water.  The air was dark and cool as we descended in a spiral into the well…

halfway down into the well at Quinta Regaleira

Leaving daylight far behind.

Well at Quinta Regaleira

While we could have climbed back up to exit, we chose instead to explore the series of underground tunnels that link the Initiation Wells, lakes and grottos.  It took a moment to adjust our eyes…

lights in tunnel at Quinta de Regaleira

But there was light at the end of the tunnel…

tunnel at Quinta Regaleira

And we emerged to find a waterfall and small lake!

waterfall at Quinta Regaleira

lagoon at Quinta da Regaleira

Back into the tunnels we went, and while I expected to emerge on the other side of the lake, we came out in a very different spot indeed!

Joana in the turret

(Want to learn more about Sintra?  Then come back tomorrow to see my pictures of the Palácio da Vila and Seteais…)


    • Joana says:

      So glad you liked the pix! I’m missing the afternoon pastries and coffee we had in Portugal…boo hoo. And, unfortunately, Portuguese pastries are really too complicated to make at home. Sigh.

      Ciao dearie, Joana

      On Mon, Sep 8, 2014 at 1:33 PM, JOANA MIRANDA STUDIO wrote:


  1. amy says:

    So much beauty! I love the third one down, with the sculpture on the side of the building.

    • Joana says:

      Thanks so much, Pam! I’d never been to a garden/grounds like that. We didn’t even explore most of the tunnels since we would have needed a flash light. There were no guides, of course, so it was sort of every man for himself. If you ever go to Portugal, you MUST not miss Sintra. It is really a special place.

      🙂 Joana

      On Mon, Sep 8, 2014 at 8:39 PM, JOANA MIRANDA STUDIO wrote:


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