Day Nine: Birthday Trip in Post (or Still?) Pandemic Time

The day was full, but one thing made it really a DAY (all capital letters): the visit to Quinta da Regaleira. As I wrote in Day Eight, Sintra has abundance of castles, palaces, royal gardens, etc. Most folks choose as their ultimate destinations Pena Palace or Moorish Castle. These two are biggest, very sprawling and – in my view – somewhat eclectic complexes. Monserrate (see yesterday) and Quinta da Regaleira have much stronger “identities” and, at the same time, they are more “personable” and “intimate” to explore. If you ask, how I would describe Quinta da Regaleira in just a few words, I would say “fairy tale.” Built by the italian architect Luigi Manini at the end of 19th century, Quinta de Regaleira consist of of a Romantic palace and chapel, plus a luxurious park with lakes, labirints, grottoes, wells, benches, fountains, and much more. It is hard to describe, but the complex is sort of built on several levels which are interconnected by walking paths, stairs and even (yes!) tunnels. Better take a look here.

The fellow who commissioned the construction of Quinta and owned it was Carvalho Monteiro. Quite a colorful character, Monteiro was eager to build a bewildering place where he could collect/display symbols that reflected his interests which included alchemy, Masonry, the Knights Templar, and the Rosicrucians. Accordingly, one of the major attractions in Quinta is the so called Initiation Well. It looks more like an underground tower lined with stairs. The well never served as water source. Instead, it was used for ceremonial purposes that included Tarot initiation rites.

I spent at Quinta much more time than planned originally: it is simply captivating place. As a result had neither time nor desire to go to Pena Palace: I did not want to spoil my admiration of Quinta. But I found a perfect spot to take a great close-up shot of Pena

The spot from which this picture was taken is actually absolutely “off limits” for visitors: I hiked and climbed there absolutely illegally

This is called Estatua do Guerreiri. It is built to be observed from a great distance, but I found the way to this monument and climbed it. The result was this (above) picture of Pena. At the bottom of this statue, I found amazing flowers growing literally from the stones.

I spent the rest of the day roaming the streets of old Sintra. They were nearly empty (again “advantage” of COVID) and suddenly it downed on me: this could have been Yalta – the famous coastal resort in Crimea – at the end of 19th century, when Anton Chekhov used to come there and write his short stories and novels. Yalta has very similar “feel” as Sintra…

Tomorrow, I head for Lisbon.

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