My favourite place in Sintra is Quinta de Regaleira, a Gothic inspired estate made up of an enigmatic palace sitting atop a stage of ornate gardens.
As I entered the grounds I could hardly take my eyes away from the palace. My feet stayed glued to the ground as I looked up from the path down below. It was a vision that felt strangely familiar but I couldn’t understand why, I had never been here before. I scanned through my memory looking for signs that would bring me here and then I found it.
This was the house I conjured up in my imagination when I read the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe. This was my House of Usher. But it wasn’t just Poe who had made me think of a house like this, horror movies and other authors in the in realm of Gothic fiction had taken me here throughout the years.
The exterior of the palace provokes an alluring sense of mystery but as soon as you pass through the door the mystery evaporates into a lack-lustre museum. The thing to therefore remember about Quinta de Regaleira is that it’s all about the garden.
From an informational point of view, it does provide all the necessary information about the palace, including background information on the architect, Luigi Manini, so I’m not telling you not go in, I’m just giving you a heads up not to expect fireworks of grandeur.
There is, however, a small yet ornately decorated chapel located next to the palace which demands attention for its stained glass windows, frescoes and intricate stuccoes. Inside you’ll also find steps that wind down to a little basement to add another curious dimension, especially as there are no signs as to what it was actually used for.
The incurably sublime and surprisingly complex gardens is where most your time should be spent. If there was ever a perfect place to play hide and seek it would be here as it contains an extensive and enigmatic system of tunnels, grottoes and underground walkways.
To maximise your adventure it’s a fun idea to bring a little flashlight, or if you have a light on your phone then use that.
Let your feet and imagination wander down the tunnels and up through the tower. Most of all, just enjoy the view and feel enchanted by the romantic echoes of the past.Author: Shing Lin Yoong Website: www.theculturemap.com
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.