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Quinta da Regaleira

This romantic UNESCO World Heritage Site displays the wealth and extravagance of the Portuguese elite.

TravelCurious Tip

The spookiness of the gardens are not something to share with a crowd. Get there early to avoid them and really feel the chill of the occult!

Match Made In Heaven

Commissioned by the Brazilian coffee tycoon António Carvalho Monteiro, who was also known as Monteiro dos Milhões (Moneybags Monteiro), and dreamed up by an Italian opera-set designer, the Quinta da Regaleira was always going to be special.


The palace itself stands five floors tall with an exuberantly gothic façade, replete with pinnacles, a foreboding octagonal tower and enough grimacing gargoyles to fill any child’s nightmares. It is more than just gothic though, as there are also Egyptian, Moorish and Manueline features. The result is truly unique and more than warrants the brief journey from Sintra.


Double, Double Toil and Trouble

However, as spectacular as the palace is, the real magic is in the garden, where the owner’s mystic ideologies reveal themselves in every nook and grotto. It is full of references to the occult: to the Knights Templar, the Masons and sinister alchemy.


The twin wells are undoubtedly the spookiest part. Never used for water, it is thought that they were instead part of an initiation ceremony for the Knights Templar. Within them, two winding staircases spiral down nine platforms and 27 metres. Each platform is said to represent one of the nine circles of Hell, the nine sections of purgatory and the nine skies of paradise. At the bottom there is a compass over a Knights Templar cross, which is said to have been Monteiro’s herald. Although their use is shrouded in mystery, the beauty and symbology of the wells is plain to see.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Lisbon
Sintra
This municipality is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its vast 19th century Romanic monuments.
Pena Palace
Standing boldly atop a hill above Sintra, this beautiful palace can be seen all the way from Lisbon on a clear day.
Sintra City Hall
An unusually flamboyant town hall, and one of the most prominent landmarks in the town of Sintra.
Castle of the Moors
Built between the 8th and 9th centuries, this military outpost in Sintra played a key role in the Reconquista against Arab rule.
Sintra National Palace
A striking and eclectic mix of architectural styles, this is most likely the best preserved medieval palace in all of Portugal.
Monserrate Palace
The traditional summer resort of the Portuguese Royal Family.

Related Tours

Discover the Wonders of Sintra with skip the line tickets from Lisbon
Visit Sintra, one of Portugal’s most magical UNESCO World Heritage Sites, for hilltop castles and fairytale palaces set in the forested hills near Lisbon.
 
  • Tour the turreted, Romanticist Pena Palace, perched on a dramatic hilltop
  • Visit a Moorish castle which served as a military outpost in the 9th century Reconquista
  • Stroll around the lake-dotted secret gardens at the Quinta da Regaleira Palace
  • Explore Queluz National Palace, the last official residence of the Portuguese Royal Family
  • Take in spectacular sea views from Cabo da Roca (Cape Rock), the westernmost point of mainland Europe
Fairytale Sintra
 
The ancient city of Sintra may lie just half an hour from Lisbon, but its forest-covered mountains feel a world away from the frenetic capital. A cooler climate and lush landscapes have drawn Portugal’s rich and powerful here for over a thousand years and it even served as a summer retreat for the Royal Family. Hence, the hills are dotted with extravagant Moorish castles, fortresses and Romanticist palaces, which you’ll explore the very best of on this guided tour.
 
Royal Pleasure and Military Might
 
Take guided tours of some of Sintra’s most famous monuments. You’ll start at Pena Palace, a yellow and orange Romanticist wonder complete with domes and turrets, watchtowers and drawbridge. The Castle of the Moors, a 9th century military outpost, was a key site during the Reconquista and today, you can wander the remains of its walls for incredible views of the region and Pena Palace.
 
Tour the Regaleira Ranch, a grand house built by a wealthy resident in 1892, which is most famous for its quirky garden structures, from fountains to sculptures and the inverted tower. This spirals down 27 metres to spectacular underground tunnels. You’ll also get the chance to visit the Queluz National Palace, which presents one of Europe’s finest examples of Rococo architecture and was the last official residence of the Portuguese Royal Family before the French invasion of 1807, when they fled to Brazil.
 
To marvel at one of Sintra’s most spectacular viewpoints, you’ll visitCape Rock, the westernmost point of both Portugal and continental Europe. From this dramatic cape, you’ll get panoramic sea views from windswept cliffs. Before leaving the magical hills of Sintra, you’ll make final photo stops at both Monserrate Palace.

You could spend weeks exploring Sintra’s hilltop treasures but if you haven’t got time for that, this tour showcases the best of its castles, viewpoints and decorative palaces. 
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