Quinta da Regaleira is an estate located near the historic center of Sintra. It is classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO within the 'Cultural Landscape of Sintra'. Along with the other palaces in the area such as the Quinta do Relógio, Pena, Monserrate and Seteais palaces, it is considered one of the principal tourist attractions of Sintra. The property consists of a romantic palace and chapel, and a luxurious park that features lakes, grottoes, wells, benches, fountains, and a vast array of exquisite constructions. The palace is also known as 'The Palace of Monteiro the Millionaire', which is based on the nickname of its best known former owner, António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro.
The land was sold in 1892 to Carvalho Monteiro. Monteiro was eager to build a bewildering place where he could collect symbols that reflected his interests and ideologies. With the assistance of the Italian architect Luigi Manini, he recreated the 4-hectare estate. In addition to other new features, he added enigmatic buildings that allegedly held symbols related to alchemy, Masonry, the Knights Templar, and the Rosicrucians. The architecture Manini designed evoked Roman, Gothic, Renaissance, and Manueline styles. The construction of the current estate commenced in 1904 and much of it was completed by 1910.
The estate was later sold in 1942 to Waldemar d'Orey, who used it as private residence for his extensive family. He ordered repairs and restoration work for the property. In 1987, the estate was sold, once again, to the Japanese Aoki Corporation and ceased to serve as a residence. The corporation kept the estate closed to the public for ten years, until it was acquired by the Sintra Town Hall in 1997. Extensive restoration efforts were promptly initiated throughout the estate. It finally opened to the public in June 1998 and began hosting cultural events.
The Regaleira Palace bears the same name as the entire estate. The structure's façade is characterized by exuberantly Gothic pinnacles, gargoyles, capitals, and an impressive octagonal tower.
The palace contains five floors. The ground floor consists of a series of hallways that all connect the living room, dining room, billiards room, balcony, some smaller rooms, and several stairways. In turn, the first upper floor contains bedrooms and a dressing room. The second upper floor contains Carvalho Monteiro's office, and the bedrooms of female servants. The third upper floor contains the ironing room and a smaller room with access to a terrace. Finally, the basement contains the male servants' bedrooms, the kitchen (which featured an elevator for lifting food to the ground floor), and storage rooms.
The Regaleira Chapel is a Roman Catholic Chapel, and stands in front of the palace's main façade. Its architecture is akin to the palace's. The interior of the chapel is richly decorated with frescoes, stained glass windows and lavish stuccoes. The frescoes contain representations of Teresa of Ávila and Saint Anthony, as well as other religious depictions. Meanwhile, the floor itself offers depictions of the armillary sphere of the Portuguese discoveries and the Order of Christ Cross, surrounded by pentagrams. Despite its relatively small size, the chapel has several floors.
Much of the four hectares of land in the surrounding estate consists of a densely treed park lined with myriad roads and footpaths. The woods are neatly arranged in the lower parts of the estate, but are left wild and disorganized in the upper parts, reflecting Carvalho Monteiro's belief in primitivism. Decorative, symbolic, and lively structures can be found throughout the park.References:
The city walls of Avila were built in the 11th century to protect the citizens from the Moors. They have been well maintained throughout the centuries and are now a major tourist attraction as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk around about half of the length of the walls.
The layout of the city is an even quadrilateral with a perimeter of 2,516 m. Its walls, which consist in part of stones already used in earlier constructions, have an average thickness of 3 m. Access to the city is afforded by nine gates of different periods; twin 20 m high towers, linked by a semi-circular arch, flank the oldest ones, Puerta de San Vicente and Puerta del Alcázar.