There was a moment as we walked through the magical gardens of this park that my other half said he was sure he’d been here before, not in person, but in a dream. I knew exactly what he meant.
The Quinta da Regaleria is one of a number of outlandish buildings and parks located near the historical town of Sintra, near Lisbon. The current fantastical park was created by António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro and his architect Luigi Manini. It’s filled with enough symbolism and imagery to keep Dan Brown occupied for years.
The house itself is pretty modest in size but makes up for it by being filled with creative flourishes of design. From light switches to doorknobs, everything has been crafted to the extreme.
But it’s the park that makes the biggest impression. As you meander through the trees and pathways, you stumble upon fountains, towers, hidden grottos, mysterious pools, and sunken wells. The park and buildings are allegedly filled with symbols and imagery recalling alchemy, Masonry and the Knights Templar.
The place I found the most memorable was the Initiation Well. It was used for ceremonial purposes rather than as a water source. Hidden from above in what appears to be a boulder, you enter to be confronted with a staircase that spirals down into the earth, the interior framed with archways.
Once you reach the bottom you can look back up, to the circle of light far above you.
If you choose, you can wander into the series of tunnels that extend around the park. We followed the strings of golden lights through roughly hewn white caves to emerge beneath a gently cascading waterfall.
There’s plenty here to inspire. It may seem tailormade to a “Game of Thrones” style epic but I could see it as a setting for sci-fi, mystery, romance – anything in fact that could benefit from a dose of the uncanny.
Have you ever visited the Quinta da Regaleria? What do you think of the pictures? Let me know in the comments.