44 lisbon/portugal THE PALACE OF THE MONTEIRO MILLIONAIRE Once home to the fabulously wealthy António Monteiro, this gothic revival style 20th century residence unfolds over five floors and is fronted by an ornate and gargoyle-guarded façade. A stroll through the ground floor unveils a series of hallways connecting the living room, dining room, billiards room, balcony and smaller rooms. Ascend any of the several sets of staircases to the upper floors, and you’ll see bedrooms, dressing rooms, Monteiro’s o¬ce, servant chambers and, at the very top, a terrace. Beside the main home there’s an ornately decorated chapel called the Regaleira Chapel. Discover the richly illustrated frescoes — many of which detail Teresa of Avila and Saint Anthony — the beautifully designed stuccoes and stained-glass windows. Inside the chapel, there’s also a basement that is as mysterious as it is unique; it’s unclear as to why it was built and what purpose it once served. As enticing as the circa-1904 palace and its charming chapel might be, the true attraction is found within the grounds of the deeply enchanting pleasure gardens. AN ENCHANTED ESTATE Styled to represent ancient secret orders, the gardens of Quinta da Regaleria cover a full 4 hectares and boast lakes, grottoes, fountains, ornate benches, mysterious symbolism and several hidden passages. A dedicated visitor could spend hours exploring and enjoying these gardens, much as I imagine Monteiro must have done. A fascinating figure in his own right, Monteiro was a believer in primitivism and his largely allegorical gardens reflect this by neatly arranging everything in the lower parts of the estate while leaving things wild and chaotic in the upper parts. An attentive walk through the gardens will reveal his love of the mystical and occult with semi-secret references to orders like the Knights Templar and the Masons, none more impressive than the mosscovered Initiation Well. The Initiation Well was constructed to symbolize the initiation ceremony for the Knights Templar. Local stories hold that Monteiro used this well for various ceremonies of his own, including Tarot initiation rites. Inside the well, a concealed passageway descends 27 meters before connecting to a series of tunnels that run the entire length of the gardens. This extensive system of tunnels can be accessed via various points on the premises, including the chapel, waterfall lake and several of the grottoes. (If you’ve ever wanted to act out scenes from “The Goonies,” herein lies your opportunity). However you choose to enjoy this fantastical locale, Sintra o¢ers a wealth of opportunities to explore, discover and engage the captivating beauty of the Portuguese Riviera. A professional writer since 1997, Dylan Barmmer lives in Costa Mesa, California. He is the founder and raconteur of his company Word Is Born (WordIsBorn.net) and the brainchild behind the movement of Random Acts of Poetry.