Romantic Ramblings: Quinta da Regaleira

There’s something to be said for the trope of the labyrinth–confusion, discovery, loss, mystery. Theseus and the Minotaur, David Bowie’s eponymous film, the various creatures of a little girl’s frightened imagination. How can we find our way out of the endlessly twisting, confusing paths that life itself makes for us?

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You might find yourself at the bottom of tower–don’t worry, it’s not as creepy as The Ring

Maybe that’s why this eccentric rich person at the turn of the 20th century build the art deco, surrealist grounds of the Quinta da Regaleira–to work out some of his existential dread in the face of the never-ending labyrinth that is human existence. The decadent main house is just the beginning–the real attraction is the grounds.

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Overly-ornate gates

The gardens have magical waterfalls and random turrets and parapets, as well as extensive network of underground tunnels, where you can wander through pitch-black until you emerge into the daylight, blinking with confusion about where the hell you ended up.

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One of said pitch-black tunnels emerging to a cave in the back of a waterfall

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Although honestly I imagine he orchestrated a wildly convoluted murder mystery dinner party that got out of hand and resulted in a real murder, which the guests had to solve. (This is definitely a screenplay I’m going to write, then film in this very location.)

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I think it’s usually sunny and looks much less ominous, but I went here as part of a Sintra tour with my hostel in Lisbon and just like my trip to the Parque Nacional da Pena, the low-hanging fog complemented the ephemeral labyrinth aesthetic perfectly.

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