The Palácio da Regaleira: history and curiosities

Very close to the Portuguese capital, we find the small town of Sintra, a beautiful town whose historic center was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Among all its magical places, one stands out, the Regaleira Palace.

This palace is a building located in the homonymous fifth that hides many enigmatic places. Do you want to know what they are and what kind of secrets they hide? We detail it below!

The Quinta da Regaleira, a Freemason temple

There is documentation that evidences the existence of the fifth since the end of the 17th century. Nevertheless, the history of the current Regaleira begins in 1892. That year, Baroness da Regaleira sold the estate to Dr. António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro, known as Monteiro dos milhões (‘Monteiro the Millionaire’).

The new owner was known for his enormous fortune and for being a noted collector and bibliophile. In addition, many of his contemporaries defined him as an eccentric person, perhaps because he is a fan of astrology, esotericism and the occult sciences or because he belongs to the Freemasons, one of the contemporary institutions that, due to its idiosyncrasy, has always been shrouded in an aura of mystery.

Be that as it may, in the Quinta da Regaleira and in its palace, the elements that arouse the most interest in visitors are those related to Freemasonry. Monteiro had the intention of creating a Masonic temple in the fifth, and for this reason we find Masonic symbols everywhere.

It is interesting to note that the eccentricity of the owner is manifested in the existence of other symbolic motifs related to various fields such as, for example, esoteric themes, alchemy, the Templars or the Rosicrucians. Let’s see some of these elements located in the fifth to, later, focus on the palace itself.

Curiosities of the Quinta da Regaleira

In the Quinta da Regaleira, we find many items worth mentioning. Some of them are the Initiatic Well; the Chapel of the Holy Trinity; its gardens, normal at first glance, but actually inspired by a style of art called primitivism; the Fountain of Abundance; the Landing of the Gods or the Gate of the Guardians. Let’s see some of them:

The initiation well

With complete certainty, the so-called initiation well, also known as the inverted tower, is the element that arouses the most interest in the villa. And this is not surprising, given that it is a construction loaded with symbolism and it is thought that it was used in Masonic initiation rituals.

A spiral staircase descends nine stories to the bottom of the shaft. It is thought that the fact that there are nine floors is directly evoking the Divine Comedy of Dante and represents the nine circles of hell. Other symbols that we find in the well are allusions to the Order of the Rosicrucians and the Templars.

The initiates had to climb the spiral staircase. This represented its rebirth, while its culmination was carried out after crossing the upper entrance, a door guarded by two dragons coiled in the so-called Fountain of the Dragons.

The initiation well is connected by multiple underground galleries that join it to other points of the fifth, such as the chapel and the palace.

The Chapel of the Holy Trinity

The Chapel of the Holy Trinity is another of the buildings that stand out within the fifth. This one, in Manueline style, also is full of elements that can be linked to the order of the Templars.

Proof of this is the great cross of the Order of Christ, the military order heir to the Temple in Portugal, traced on the floor of the chapel. Another element is found in one of its stained glass windows, where three angels are represented surrounding a triangle, a figure commonly used by the Templars.

The Regaleira Palace

When Dr. António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro acquired the villa, he asked the Italian architect Luigi Manini for help to build the buildings on it. The doctor asked the architect to undertake a trip through Portugal and Europe gathering information over all existing architectural styles.

That is why the different constructions of the villa are influenced by various styles, ranging from Romanesque and Gothic to Renaissance and Manueline. The construction of the farm dates from between 1904 and 1910.

The façade of the palace has a marked Manueline influence. Its columns, balconies, windows and decorative elements characteristic of this architectural style stand out. On the façade, we also find sculptures of some Christian saints.

Inside the palace we find several rooms, a large library and an alchemy laboratory, located in an octagonal tower. That the ground plan of the tower was octagonal is not accidental, since the number eight had a special meaning for Masons.

The interior decoration of the building is impressive; the collection of sketches and notes by Manini preserved and exhibited in the palace is truly remarkable. These show in detail the notes that the architect was making during his travels to later make them a reality in the fifth and Regaleira Palace.

Discover the hidden mysteries of Freemasonry

If you are one of those who enjoyed reading the best seller by Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Codeand you are passionate about the mystery that hides the world of Masons, you must escape to visit the fifth and the Regaleira Palace.

It is undoubtedly a unique opportunity to discover some of the secrets of a “Mason temple”. Yes indeed, if you are not an expert in the field, better request a guided tour so you don’t miss any details.

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