Already some time ago we introduced Sintra and its biggest attraction: the Pena Palace. And because this Disney-like castle is far from being the only place worth a visit in the area, we promised to go back. And we kept that promise!
During the second visit, in the cosy, little town which is surrounded by different kind of palaces we visited Quinta da Regaleira. And our feelings about this complex? Let’s take it step by step…
How to get there
It is very easy to get to Sintra from Lisbon (more about the transport here). Because there is plenty of connections, we didn’t have to hurry to catch any particular one. Our second trip to Sintra was sloths-friendly: calm, with no rush. We took a train departing around noon. We arrived to our sunny destination and everything was saying that a beautiful awaits.
Quinta da Regaleira lies not far from the centre of the town but we met a lot of guys offering us transport, we politely refused all. The route is totally manageable on foot. Don´t worry, it is a quite short walk, I am definitely not a fan of long hikes and I did it without whining.
About the complex - my impression
Once we approached the gates of Quinta da Regaleira, we had to pay for the entrance. As in the case of the Pena Palace, there you also have to buy a ticket to enter… even if you want to see “just” the park. We paid 6 euro per person. But guys, it was worth it.
I would like to say in the first place that… It doesn’t really matter what you think of the Pena Palace. Quinta da Regaleira offers a totally different kind of experience.
In the heart of the grounds of Quinta da Regaleira, you can find a palace (Palácio da Regaleira) which is sometimes called the Palace of the Monteiro Millionaire because of its former owner. As I have already indicated, don’t expect any kitchy Disney-kind of colourful design.
The palace is surrounded by a large park full of interesting, decorative masterpieces: towers which are offering nice views, bridges, fountains, wells, etc. There is also a unique system of caves which you can walk though. They connect various parts of the complex. The gardens provide great place for a calm walk. You can relax here surrounded by nature, near small lakes, in shadows of many trees.
In Quinta da Regaleira, I found a very specific kingdom. I was fascinated by combinations of various symbols and decorations. Most of the art there is carved in stone and I enjoyed to watch and compare all the small details. Sometimes, I was wondering what is natural and what was created by man.
It was difficult to get bored in the compound. I felt like a small explorer, trying to find the right ways though the tunnels. I wanted to discover where is the “famous” well which you might know from pictures. If you wouldn't take a picture there, it is like you didn’t visit it at all.
During our walk in the grounds of Quinta da Regaleira, we found also a very picturesque tile corner. As you probably already know, I fell in love with Portuguese azulejos and I every possible opportunity to see a new tilework. This one was a traditional combination of blue and white portraying the town of Sintra. We took there many pictures. Now, when I am thinking about it, I need to say that the whole complex provides many great places for Insta-lovers. Just check out the gallery.
A piece of history
Only after visiting Quinta da Regaleira, I got curious about its history and I think it is worth sharing. (If you are not a fan of this kind of information, just skip this passage.)
In the past, the grounds of Quinta da Regaleira had many owners. At the end of the 19th century it was sold to a wealthy businessman Carvalho Monteiro. He created there, with a help of an Italian architect, a unique piece of art.
The complex was built in many styles, from Roman to Renaissance, full of symbolism: related to alchemy, masonry or even the Templar Knights. All that was supposed to reflect owner’s interests and ideas.
These days, the compound of Quinta da Regaleira belongs to the UNESCO world heritage and it is visited by many curious visitors from around the world. In spite of this fact, I was pleasantly surprised not to meet crowds of tourists. Thanks to that we enjoyed our visit there even more.
Online, you can find recommendations of people saying that it is good to combine the visit in Quinta da Regaleira with some other palace in the surroundings (f.e. with Palacio de Monseratte). It is probably doable but we decided not to rush and visit just that one palace. We spent in Quinta da Regaleira the whole afternoon. There is plenty to see on its grounds and for me, this choice was enough.
I am really glad that we have visited not just Pena Palace in Sintra. Seeing Quinta da Regaleira was a totally different experience. And I can recommend you to do the same. Because Sintra is not just the Pena palace and there is much more to visit. The small town allows you to get away from the business of Lisbon. Its gardens and palaces provide space for contemplation, romantic walks and a different perspective on Portugal. Quinta da Regaleira fascinated me because of the unique architecture and also the story behind it. So, if you got interested, there is no other way then to try it on your own!
If you would like to get to know more or you have some questions, leave us a comment.