Sintra’s Fairy Tale Palace: Quinta da Regaleira
If Lisbon is on your bucket list, add Sintra, just an easy train ride away. The city is a charming maze of narrow streets, palaces, and dramatic hills. And Quinta da Regaleira is the magical, must-see site.
It’s not especially historic as palaces go since it was created from 1904 to 1910 by the extremely well-heeled António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro as his country estate. (The name relates back to the former owner the Viscondessa da Regaleira.) Monteiro’s passion for romance, Italian style, and metaphysics, however, resulted in a fascinating complex of glorious architecture, sculpture, and landscaping that is now considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Describing it doesn’t do it justice so check out the photos and if you’re anywhere close, be sure to visit and leave plenty of time to explore the extensive house (loved the tile floors!), chapel, grotto and grounds. Wear comfortable shoes to comfortably discover the labyrinth of trails, sculptures, grottos, tunnels, and unworldly spiral staircase with alchemical meanings relating heaven and earth.
PS: You could stay hours exploring the full grounds but rest assured that there is a lovely garden terrace and dining room to refresh yourself!