Portugal and Quinta Da RegulariaPosted: September 1, 2013
We finally got back from our 2 weeks in Portugal. We had an excellent time but I am still catching up on sleep. We spent time in Lisboa, Sintra, Ericerea, Evaro, Coimbra and Porto — not enough time in any one place, but we only had two weeks. There was so much to do, but I think my favorite thing was visiting Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra. All of Portugal is great — the people are great, the food is great, and there is a castle on every hill and a fantastic looking church down every narrow, crooked street, but the Quinta Da Regularia was really weird and fun.
The Quinta was built in the early 1900s by some millionaires with all sorts of strange ideas about alchemy, the masons, astrology and I don’t know what else. They were also probably pretty devout Catholics since they built a really fancy chapel on the property. The property is fairly large and wooded, but filled with small paths, gardens, caves, grottoes, amphitheaters, etc. I get the impression that the place was constructed as a ‘symbolic artwork’ that you were supposed to walk through, by passing through certain passages and tunnels, you were suppose to symbolize the transmutation of lead into gold via alchemy (or something like that). There were tunnels and grottoes everywhere, and a really elaborate ‘palace’ house, extensive gardens and even some secret stone doors.
There are towers like this one (above) scattered all over the property. While they provide negligible defensive value, you can climb up ’em and look around. The place is such a maze it’s really hard to get a sense of how big it is.
You can climb up the towers via tiny little staircases that might be a problem if you are a ginormous fatty — while walking the whole Quinta is not particularly hard exercise, if you can’t walk 100 paces without stopping for a rest, it will kill you and they will have a really hard time getting your body out because some of the places are pretty tight.
Once you climb up one of these many towers that are dotted all over the landscape, you will probably see something like this (above). Like all of Sintra, it’s on a hillside and the builders added paths, streams, walls, statues, gardens, etc. You can walk 10 or 20 feet and discover a new grotto or path or statue. It’s fun to just explore.
Here Annie is opening one of the three different stone ‘secret doors’ we found (above photo). You have to be pretty strong to open them; Annie keeps herself fit and is up to the task. The stone doors lead to tunnels, staircases and passages (which are pretty fantastic but I didn’t get a lot of photos because they are really dark inside). Some of the tunnels terminate in one of two ‘wells’ that are deep pits with spiral stairs that curl around the shaft so you can climb up and look down or down and look up. Like this:
There’s really so much more, and these crappy photos don’t do it justice — after a while I just stopped bothering to take pictures because they really didn’t give a good sense of the place and I just wanted to keep looking and experiencing it rather than trying to figure out how to take pictures of it. But a lot of Portugal was like that.
This map probably give a better idea of how elaborate and fantastic this place is: