Marvel at the unique and unconventional design of this elaborate and whimsical folly-filled estate created by Italian set designer Luigi Manini.
The fantastical villa and gardens of Quinta da Regaleira encompass elements of Roman, Renaissance and Manueline styles. Explore the property and soak up its otherworldly atmosphere. With its offbeat architecture, mysterious follies and network of underground tunnels and caves, the site seems to more closely resemble a movie set than it does a real-life abode.
The villa and gardens were the result of efforts by two men: opera-set designer Luigi Manini and wealthy Brazilian businessman António Carvalho Monteiro, who commissioned Manini in 1904. The elaborate property remained in private hands until 1997, when Sintra authorities purchased it. Shortly thereafter, it opened to the public.
Upon first approach, notice the ornate stone façade of the main house, which is adorned with gothic-inspired features including gargoyles and turrets. Venture inside the house for a closer look at the building’s unexpected and often intricate decorations. The interior, which spreads across five floors, is adorned with various carvings, frescoes, glass mosaics and other whimsical design elements.
Take a guided tour around the gardens. The atypical grounds are said to be rich in symbolism and include several unusual structures including statues, water features, caves, towers and an underground labyrinth of tunnels. Knowledgeable guides will help explain the symbolic significance of the garden’s weird and wonderful features, which are said to reference everything from ancient mythology to the Knights Templar.
Don’t miss the garden’s most famous attraction, the 100-foot-deep (30-meter) Initiation Well, which somewhat resembles an inverted tower. Enter the bottom of the well via the network of underground tunnels and climb up the spiral staircases of the well to reach the light.
Reach Quinta da Regaleira on foot from Sintra in just 15 minutes. The estate is open daily. Opening hours change depending on the season so check ahead before your visit. An entrance fee applies and guided tours of the property are available for an additional cost.