Quinta da Regaleira. Sintra, Portugal.
Good evening. I am Doctor António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro, and I am one those people who are called a lucky man. Right from my birth in Brazil, I had all that a human being needs for a happy life. My Portuguese parents were rich and healthy, and I was a rich and healthy boy. Later, I was sent to my historical motherland, Portugal, to study in the University of Coimbra. Graduated in law, I returned to Brazil to make from my parents’ money, much more money, by trading in coffee and precious stones. One day, people gave me the nickname, Millionaire. Was it enjoyable? Maybe, but every day I remembered my student life in Coimbra; it was more enjoyable and interesting.
My friend Luigi Manini and I often sat in a cafe talking about Templars, Rosicrucians, Masons, etc. Esotericism is a very interesting topic. No one knows for sure what is it, where is it, and how is it. Everyone can say what he thinks and no one can catch him in a lie. How could we know that in the future all our conversations would result in the birth of the unique garden, villa, and chapel in the town of Sintra, Portugal; our Palácio da Regaleira would be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, and people would remember me not as Monteiro the Millionaire, but as doctor Carvalho Monteiro, the creator of one of the most unusual and mystical gardens in the world?
When I had made so much money that I could live well the rest of my life I resolved that it was time to return to Portugal. My father was a very close friend of the king of Portugal, so I could count on the hospitality of this country. The summer residence of the king’s family was located in the mountains of Sintra not far from Lisbon, so I decided to buy land there. Sintra has a unique mix of mountains, humidity, and heat. This is an ideal place for growing an exotic and mystical garden, and I found a villa with a large plot of land.
Why didn’t I rename the Quinta da Regaleira? Madam Rigaleira was a very nice and wise woman. I liked her and wanted to perpetuate her name in history. In those times, I already knew that the garden and palace I wanted to build would be famous sooner or later, and the whole world would know that this philosophical and esoteric garden was located in my beloved Portugal.
Of course, I had a second motive: to hide from people. All my life I worked, traded, negotiated, and lived among people, but I couldn’t say I liked them all. I felt much more comfortable in my own world: in the world of my books and the music of Wagner. Ludwig, the king of Bavaria, created his own world−the castle of Neuschwanstein−why couldn’t I? By the way, he paid very high price for his beautiful castle−he was killed for it. It was a different matter with me: my Quinta da Regaleira would be erected on my own money, so no one would be offended.
The first architect did not understand my concept. He proposed a project which had little in common with Portugal, mysticism, and, of course, Wagner. So I invited my university friend Luigi Manini, and he showed me the estate and garden of my dream. Not surprising. After all, he is Italian and cannot be a mediocre architect.
As we did in our student years, we sat for long hours in the evenings with a bottle of old, good Portuguese wine, creating on paper our future miracle. Luigi understood me from the start. When he brought me the first drawings of my palace and chapel I looked at him fearfully: maybe he is my alter ego?!
In the garden of Quinta da Regaleira. Sintra, Portugal.
“Just a bench” in the park of Villa Rigaleira, Sintra, Portugal.
For ten long years, we were realizing our ideas in stones, trees, fountains, ponds, caves, and wells. The result was so wonderful that later I asked Luigi to make my future crypt. My Quinta da Regaleira, my crypt in Cemitério dos Prazeres, and my palace in Lisbon could be opened with the same key. That was my world, three parts of it.
My special pride is the so-called Initiation Well. This is a wonderful tower from the mystically beautiful city of Venice, Italy. Did you remember that my architect, Luigi Manini, was Italian? I suppose the staircase of the Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo inspired him for the creation of my own tower, but turned inside out and upside down. My tower leads into the earth. This is a well.
The Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo (also called Palazzo Contarini Minelli dal Bovolo) by architect Giovanni Candi. Venice, Italy.
Initiation Well in the garden of Quinta da Regaleira. Sintra, Portugal.
The masked entrance to Initiation Well.
Today, some experts say that my Initiation Well was a mystical place where candidates for the Masons performed their initiation ritual; that it was a place, mimicking the nine circles of hell and simultaneously the nine spheres of heaven. Well, I am not sure about nine circles and nine spheres; I can only say that the internal tower is the way to your soul, to your subconscious, to your nature. Do you remember moments in your life when you were sitting in some very comfortable and calm place and started to sink into your thoughts deeper and deeper? Step by step, the external world was starting disappear and you went into your private world.
This is the role my Initiation Well played for me. Do you know how wonderful it was to descend slowly, circle by circle to my coat of arms at the bottom, hearing only raindrops falling? If not, try to ladder into my internal tower slowly and thoughtfully, without friends, and on a rainy day. I am sure you will understand me.
At the bottom, look up. This light circle at the distance is your conscious remaining on the surface. Then explore your subconscious, walking along my underpasses. At the end of every pass you will find the light again, returning to this world which is not as bad as we sometimes think.
On the bottom of Initiation Well.
The exit of one of the underpasses from Initiation Well.
Are you waiting for my answers regarding Masons and their rituals in my Quinta da Rigaleira? The Masons are a secret society. If everyone revealed their secrets, this secret society would no longer be secret. So allow me not to answer your questions. However, I am ready to talk about Templars’ symbols in my chapel and garden. Yes, my friend Luigi and I were big fans of the Templar Knights and studied their dramatic destiny. This is why you will find a number of their symbols here and there in my estate.
Capela da Regaleira.
Have I concealed some of their vast treasures here? Another dangerous question. Can you imagine the consequences if I answered, “Yes”? Please, come to my Quinta da Regaleira and try to read my encrypted signs. Even if you don’t find treasures of the Templars, you will open up many more treasures inside yourself after descending into my Initiation Well, I assure you. I still live here and maybe will help you.
Doctor António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro.