Europe is filled with amazing historic buildings and landscapes incorporating a range of design styles. One architectural marvel I stumbled across travelling through Portugal was an estate located near the historic centre of Sintra – Quinta da Regaleria. Classified as a world heritage site by UNESCO it’s also considered one of the top attractions in Portugal. Built in the 20th century in the middle of a dense forest this amazing gothic structure is the result of achieving the romantic and mythical dreams of its owner Antonio Augosto. To make his dreams a reality he worked in conjunction with the famous Italian opera set designer and architect Luigi Manini. As a result the ‘Regaleria’ embodies a combination of styles including Roman, Gothic, Renaissance and Manueline.
It’s a special place, which must be experienced firsthand. It’s not just the Regaleria palace to be admired it’s the surroundings in the exquisite landscaped gardens that stand to leave you breathless. The truly mysterious and mythological park features lakes, grottoes, wells, benches, underground passageways, fountains and a chapel. My favourite structures in the park are the two initiation wells built for symbolic ceremonial purposes. Never used for water they contain a spiral staircase with two small landings that connect you to other tunnels via a series of underground walkways.
The rest of the land is made up of weaving footpaths that also take you on journey through the densely treed park. Along the way you come across many more decorative, symbolic and intricate structures. If you’re lucky enough you will encounter one of the vast arrays of turrets providing breathtaking views over the land. Right in front of the magical palace is a small Roman Catholic chapel. The architecture closely mimics that of the palace whilst the Interior incorporates extravagant stained glass windows, detailed stuccoes and frescoes of religious depictions.
The palace façade is decorated with intricate gothic peaks, gargoyles and towers. The Interior is just as lavishly decorated with ornate carved fireplaces, frescoes and Venetian glass mosaics. The interior also incorporates many mythological symbols. The palace is designed of five floors. You could spend hours in the palace exploring the many hallways and staircases that connect to the endless rooms. Though the best part is reaching the top of the palace and walking out onto the balcony. The view is outstanding giving an amazing view of Sintra valley.
With a great mix of architecture, landscapes and beautifully designed interiors, Quinta da Regaleira is really a designers dream to explore. I suggest bringing a quality camera to capture the magic and mystery of this legendary site.