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.
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!
The Palácio da Vila (Town Palace) seems also a stone’s throw away.
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…
Gave way to a rambling forest and towers with turrets…
Where you could get a bird’s eye view…
And see all the way to the Atlantic!
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…
Leaving daylight far behind.
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…
But there was light at the end of the tunnel…
And we emerged to find a waterfall and small lake!
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!
(Want to learn more about Sintra? Then come back tomorrow to see my pictures of the Palácio da Vila and Seteais…)
Marvelous, thanks for posting these!
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:
So much beauty! I love the third one down, with the sculpture on the side of the building.
That was fantastic!
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.
On Mon, Sep 8, 2014 at 8:39 PM, JOANA MIRANDA STUDIO wrote: