Quinta da Regaleira palace in Sintra, Portugal.

This Eccentric Portuguese Palace Is Stuffed With Secret Symbols

This Eccentric Portuguese Palace Is Stuffed With Secret Symbols

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Feb. 24 2015 12:34 PM

Quinta da Regaleira: A Portuguese Palace Stuffed With Secret Symbols

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Given free rein to design a palace in Portugal in 1904, a cashed-up, eccentric entomologist named Carvalho Monteiro came up with Quinta da Regaleira: a mishmash of architectural styles sprinkled with inscrutable symbols said to allude to secret societies.

The five-floor hilltop mansion, located in the southern coastal town of Sintra, mixes Roman, Gothic, Renaissance, and Manueline styles. Its surrounding gardens are a fantasy land of grottoes, fountains, statues, ponds, underground tunnels, and a deep, moss-covered Initiation Well, believed to be the former site of Masonic rituals.


Quinta da Regaleira’s architecture hides shapes and symbols relating to alchemy, Masonry, the Knights Templar, and the Rosicrucians. A Roman Catholic chapel in front of the palace depicts Catholic saints, with a few pentagrams thrown in for kicks. It’s a confusing mix, but one that’s undeniably beautiful.

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Ella Morton is a writer working on The Atlas Obscura, a book about global wonders, curiosities, and esoterica adapted from Atlas Obscura. Follow her on Twitter.