The Philosopher’s Mansion of Sintra (Portugal)
January 1, 1970
Quinta da Regaleira : enter into the magic
A Mysterious Garden
Regaleira… what a place plenty of mysteries ! If you are passing by Sintra, it would be too bad to miss it, really ! Built in first years of twentieth century – by a man known for his richness but also his eccentricity and inclinations for esoteric sciences – the Quinta da Regaleira is an initiation’ place where magic symbols and occult references are everywhere ! Surrounded by big trees, in park of the « Philosopher’s Mansion », statutes of gods, ancient poets and mystics animals are watching you quietly.
If you meet them, don’t be intimidated by the dragons on the « Gate of Keepers » and walk in the cave which they protect the entrance.
A dark tunnel waiting for you. Go groping in the dark and soon you’ll be in the middle of famous “Well of Initiation”. Inspired by Dante’s Inferno and designed for Masonic’s rituals, this deep wide hole of 27 meters is, in my opinion, as original than impressive.
PHOTOGRAPHERS : The best periods are in spring and autumn when everything become green again. Moss growing on the walls of the well make it even more epic !
Curiosities abound here. The aesthetic of architecture gives a special ambiance to visit and, I tell you, no need to be esoteric geek to feel it ! Have fun exploring the meandering garden and discover groundwaters, caves and paths hidden under earth, majestic fountains, secret doors and strangely shaped almost alive rocks.
If the sun is absent and the fog to appointment, it will sublimate further the mysterious energy of this place and who knows, maybe, wake up the magic …
PHOTOGRAPHERS : Fog could be here and in Sintra in general, a great occasion to make very nice pictures. If weather seems bad, don’t wait to run until park Monte da Lua or to Quinta da Regaleira with your camera ! Less tourists will be there and you won’t regret the ambiance and lights you could get !
A Eccentric Mansion
Palace da Regaleira where lived the Dr. António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro is representative of the eccentricity and megalomania of the millionaire. Large rooms with white sculptures swirling and luxurious woodwork ; brightly colored walls ; some scupltures again and again – continue to support the initiatic journey. It includes a representative romantic architectural style of the era and region. If you look closely, you will observe Sintra is full of these twisted architectural formsand these patterns carved in white stone.
Inside the Palace also, esoteric references are still there…
You can easily imagine the strange meetings that have been held here during the last century.
And at the top, near the desk where the landlord was accustomed to dedicate time to art of feather, beauty of landscape will offer you a show from the balcony. The Pena Palace on top of the Serra appears when the fog doesn’t envelope it in his arms. For me it’s certainly one of the most amazing places in the region that really worth seeing.
How to go / from Lisbon
In Lisbon, take the train to Sintra from Rossio train station. Round trip will cost you 2,15e per trip.
Keep with you the little green card that will be given during buying ticket. You can later use it for other train trips or for any metro line in Lisboa.
It takes fourty five minutes to reach Sintra by train from Lisboa. No mistake possible, it’s last station’s stop ( in both directions ). About frequencies of transports, Sintra is well served (trains every twenty minutes during the day) and until one hour in the morning (every fourty minutes in the evening).
By car you could take half an hour to go from Lisboa to Sintra. But, there is a but ! Beware of rush hours that could damn lengthen your trip ! At least, avoid to drive between 5.00 PM and 7.00 PM as much as possible to escape to traffic !
How to go / from Sintra
Once in Sintra, it won’t be difficult to reach the Quinta da Regaleira by walk from the station (10-15mins walk) or tuk-tuk if you’re lazy ^^. Regaleira is basically at the end of historic center of the city. Along the road, you will certainly cross street’s merchants with their beautiful jewelry, paintings, photos and various souvenirs. You will also pass through the « Parque da Liberdade » to which I will livicate a future article. All lovers of plants will feel themselves it in their element and bravest can enter here to climb until the « Castelo dos Mouros » on top of the Serra. I will tell you more about it soon!
Visit Quinta da Regaleira
The Quinta da Regaleira costs 6 euros and you could take a few hours or half a day – depending on your curiosity – to explore . Personally I’ll sometimes just to enjoy the peaceful and green land, to write, sitting on a rock facing the surrounding panorama. Why not prepare a picnic before to go there and enjoy your meal in the park?
If you want to be sure to not miss anything about Regaleira you could ask for thematic visits with guide. It’s not so expensive. There is also a restaurant and cafe where I personally didn’t go yet but the place seems nice with a patio and luxious decoration. I prefer gardens, trees, caves and environments more natural but if you like this kind of mansion’s ambiance, i imagine it could be a nice place to eat or drink something.
And of course, you will find a museum shop for those who want to dig deeper the subject into books or bring back a souvenir for friends.
The visit done, when Regaleira has no more secrets for you, the greediest of you could have a sweet break at Café Saudade where are served delicious pies, cakes and other sweet things of all kinds (a few meters from the station). May be the opportunity to taste the local specialty: the Queijada of Sintra, a small pastry which goes perfectly with your tea or coffee.
If you come during the summer, Regaleira host also various cultural events ; theater, opera, cinema and outdoor concerts. This could be a great opportunity to discover the place in a more living context! Rest of the time, the Quinta sometimes hosts exhibitions but its cultural program focuses almost exclusively on the summer.