Sintra city is, no doubt, a place to visit if you are near Lisbon (Portugal). It´s placed in a Nature Park, in a mountain that rises over the sea and there were built many romantic palaces since the 18th century. From Palacio da Pena, the first built, to ancient Castelo dos Mouros, Sintra is plenty of special places. By its special characteristics I want to talk today abour La Quinta da Regaleira.
This singular palace is located in a hill called Promontorio de la Luna, a telluric source or power center. By this special location we must talk about an architecture and gardens with hermetic connotations.
The story begins in 1892 when Dr. Antonio Augusto Carvalho Monteiro buys the country estate. This man, son of Portuguese parents, was born in Brasil and inherited a big fortune. He was collector of antiquities and books and professed Christiansm in a Gnostic way. This fact is directly connected with the built of the Quinta. Scatologic Christianism, related with the end of times and linked with the salvation of the soul.
He entrusted the project to Luigi Manini, italian, architect and painter, close to him in the hermetic beliefs and aesthetic and philosophical taste. They tried to resurrect past ideals, proper to the Romantic revival of their times. So the aesthetic of the palace was the Neomanuelino style.
We must refer not only the palace but the gardens, which are plenty of symbolism in sculptures, water fountains, lakes, little buildings, caves and the amazing initiation pit, everything inside a tropical garden. This symbolism comes from alchemy, temple masonry and Portuguese mythology. We must mention the Gods balcony, with nine statues of pagan gods, number with symbolic connotations.
The pit is, no doubt, the most surprising place of the Quinta. It´s an initiation pit: whoever crosses it and manages to exit will be renewed. This pit has a singular architecture, it has spiral shape whit nine groups of fifteen steps (again number nine) inside a column structure, downwards the bottom where is a templar cross inside an eight points, the heraldic symbol of Carvalho Monteiro. Just in the bottom there is a labyrinth carved in the rocks, of which one way drives to exit where you must croos a lake to exit.
About the palace, as I mentioned, is built in Neomanuelino style, inspired in great Renaissance Portuguese buildings as Monasterio de los Jerónimos or Belem Tower. Inside the palace you can find rich mosaics, luxury woods, impressive stairs and symbolic decorative images wherever you look. I want to emphasize the hall of the three Virtues, with the allegories of Strength, Wisddom and Beuty as three young people.
Just a place dedicated mainly to spirit but also to arose the senses: Beauty, Philosophy and Religion united in a unique architectonic whole.