My trip to Lisbon would have not been complete without visiting the incredible surroundings outside of the busy capital city and what could have been more beautiful than a day trip to the foothills of Portugal’s Sintra mountains?
First thing that comes in my mind when I think about Portugal and one of the reason why I have always been interested in visiting this far away country of Europe it’s the magical well of Quinta de Regaleira. Many of you must have hear about the enigmatic well used for initiation in masonry while others have no idea what I am talking about but I promise you will want to hear about it.
After three days spent in Lisbon we decided to have a short break outside of the city in the magical town of Sintra. We booked a guided tour from the hotel and together with an elderly Scandinavian couple and a super funny guide we hit the road to the delightful little town of Sintra.
Our first stop is the colorful Pena Palace located somewhere on a high peek surrounded by mesmerizing nature and with a great view over the city and the other castles located near by. The temperature has dropped with few degrees and the shiny sun of Lisbon is covered now by threatening clouds.
Tania, our tour guide (the Crazy Taz how the tourists like to call her due to her energetic personality) tried to warn me about the weather in Sintra ever since we left the hotel but I totally ignored her, choosing to keep on my travel outfit (short dress and big white hat). I was about to regret my decision once I left the car, having to endure the cold wind while queuing in for tickets. My partner borrowed me his jacket and even though I was looking nothing like a travel blogger I decided to wear it, removing it only for pictures.
I don’t normally get into details about the history of the places I am visiting because I know it can easily bore my readers but to understand why Pena Palace is so special you have to know that it was initially built in the Middle ages as a chapel, then transformed in a monastery that was destroyed by lightening and earthquakes. The ruins where later on rebuilt in a palace used as summer residence for the Portuguese royal family. The red part represent the old monastery while the yellow it’s basically the new palace, both of them matching perfectly two different styles of architecture in what is one of the most visited landmark of Portugal.
On the way down we stoped for about 30 minutes, admiring the beautiful gardens that surrounds the palace and enjoying the first rays of sunshine. Everything is green and peaceful and I feel like a queen in my own kingdom but Hey…my carriage just parked in the front entrance and I am waking up to reality while I put my princess ass on the back seat of the car.
Situated within hills covered with pine trees, this small but charming portugueses town it’s a must see during your holiday. The small shops selling local products alongside tiny streets(note to yourself:try the traditional cherry liqueur GINJINHA and the beer sold at metric glass), fascinating historical buildings and a variety of restaurants make the delight of the town but there is one specific building that attracts the most.
Masonic secrets uncovered at Quinta de Regaleira
The enigmatic residence located right on the heart of the city have been for years the secret point of meeting for masonic orders, the place where ancient rituals and initiations were performed.
The main building, the chapel, the hidden tunnels and the enchanted gardens are inspired by the owner’s mystic ideologies all hiding symbols and references of the Knights Templar, the Masons and dark alchemy.
By far, the most spectacular construction is the Well of initiation, spiraling deep within the ground and used in the ceremonies of initiation for the Knights Templars.
Straight after we stepped into the gardens we had a sole purpose of finding the famous well, which proved to be harder than we thought.
The well of initiation
Buried beneath the ground, the well might be difficult to find especially when you are surrounded by architectural masterpieces all covered with encoded messages ready to be discovered by the curious eyes.
I am descending the winding stairs to the bottom of the Earth which carries powerful symbolism in masonry, meaning the death and rebirth of a person.
After successfully completing the nine platforms representing the nine circles of Hell from Dante’s Divine comedy, I found myself in a underground cave surrounded by a beautiful waterfall and an exit less traditional…few stones on a pond. Good luck on keeping your balance!
Traditional lunch and planning of the day ahead
After having a traditional lunch in a local restaurant, crazy Taz reveals us the last stops on the agenda of the day.
1.Cabo de Roca, considered the westernmost point of Europe, a beautiful beautiful spot that I wasn’t able to enjoy much due to the strong winds. I have been in windy places before but trust me nothing can compare with this. There were moments when I thought I am going to fly away and I decided to wait for for the rest of the group in the car.
2.Boca de Inferno, an interesting cliff formation close to Cascais, another town of Portugal. The scary name “Hell’s mouth” was given due to the weird noise that waves are producing in the winter while entering the open cave.
Considered a luxurious riviera this place its packed with rich foreign residents (especially arabis, why I am not surprised) and with expensive cars speeding on full capacity on the tiny oceanic road.
3.Cascais town. I am already at the end of my power, hanging on at the last source of energy that my body produce. We have 40 minutes to explore the charming town of Cascais but all that I am thinking about it’s the hotel bed. Pretty town with few crowded beaches and cute fisherman houses transformed in hotels.