Saturday, November 21, 2009

Quinta da Regaleira and Seteais Palace in Sintra

Oh boy, I was not really prepared to see all the grandeur and fantasy fairy-tale like parks in Sintra. I thought I will be seeing castles, palaces, stately mansions and that’s it, but little did I know that these estates have amazing out-of-this-world gardens—no that would be too modest—they have parks, HUGE parks! Sintra has a potpourri of nature and man-made parks that is so startlingly familiar—in my dreams, lol. It’s like those parks in Alice in Wonderland or Wizard of Oz but the stage pushed back to the medieval ages and with the abundance of nature, that’s what the parks are like in Sintra.

Well, what can I say, it really felt like I was in a different world... that I am peeking into a fantasy world. I guess when you are filthy rich you can afford to let your imagination run wild and make it come true. Like Michael Jackson (not a fan of his music though), he had Neverland.

Quinta da Regaleira

Just a ten-minute walk from Sintra town center, this luxurious four-hectare medieval-like estate is like a child’s fantasy dream come true.

The Quinta da Regaleira is an achievement of mythical dreams of the owner, António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro and his Italian architect, Luigi Manini.

This must be the 'Threshold of the Gods' or 'Ibis Fountain'. Beautiful fountains with chimerical creatures in the lavish park.

The colourful flower tile work detail on the royal bench in Manueline-Renaissance style located beside the cave.

Here is a lake with a grotto and a stone bridge, forgot the name but this is near the threshold of the gods.

The romantic palace is a remarkable concoction of Gothic, Renaissance, Roman and Manueline architecture styles and the ultra extravagant nature park includes a lagoon, caves, wells, grottos, bridges, a waterfall, mini-parks, hidden winding paths, a chapel, several towers, mini-castles, a tea house and a collection of exquisite Manueline inspired park accessories such as benches, fountains, gates and other constructions.

I would not be surprised if António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro, the millionaire who built this romantic, utopian and magical estate 100 years ago was probably under the influence of his bizarre mythological cultic fantasies. It’s said that he was into alchemy, masonry, the occult and the templar knights. Right, so that figures.

This is the entrance of the park. 

Really—and this is not an exaggeration, Quinta da Regaleira, the palace and the park is simply astounding. My mouth fell open upon realizing that it’s a real residence with a four-hectare fantasy fairy-tale park. Someone used to live (whimsically) here before!

Seteais Palace

An example of Neo-Classical architecture in Sintra is the Seteais Palace built during the late 1700’s for the Dutch consul Daniel Gildemeester. Seteais Palace is less than a five-minute walk from Quinta de Regaleira.

The Seteais Palace was built by a Dutch man in the 1700's. It is now a luxury hotel.

The neo-classical arch is the focal point of the palace has the effigies of Prince John VI and Princes Carlota. A well trimmed labyrinth garden.

The monumental arch in the middle of the palace really stands out. It has the imperial crown perched on it with an effigy of the monarchs, Prince John VI and Princes Carlota and a Latin inscription below it, exclusively made for the royal couple as a tribute when they visited the estate sometime in the early 1800’s.

The palace is now a luxury hotel and a restaurant under Tivoli Hotels (I stayed with the sister hotel in the center of Sintra).

Travel Period: November 2009
Destination: Sintra (Lisboa), Portugal

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