Masonic Initiation Wells | Located near the historic center of Sintra, Portugal lies the Quinta da Regaleira – a spectacular estate that sits in a World Heritage protected landscape. While thousands of tourists flock to the castle every year to admire the unique architecture of the Quinta de Regaleira that combines Gothic, Egyptian, Moorish and Renaissance features, one of its most fascinating features is located beneath the ground – a pair of wells spiraling deep within the earth. The wells were never used, nor intended for water collection. Instead, these mysterious underground towers were used for secretive initiation rites.
A stone’s throw from the beautiful Palace of Sintra stands another UNESCO World Heritage Site – the opulent Quinta da Regaleira, an altogether more mysterious place that was completed in 1910. Once owned by the wealthy entomologist António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro, the Quinta da Regaleira is considered one of the most important cultural landmarks of Sintra, a town in the Lisbon District of Portugal. Along with its many decorative structures, lakes, grottos, and tunnels, two mysterious wells that better resemble inverted subterranean towers than water sources sit steeped in mysticism.
The estate was designed by an Italian architect, Luigi Manini. Manini was a creative genius and well known for his Neo-Manueline style. Quinta de Regaleira is possibly one of his most amazing works, combining mystical elements throughout the ages and merging them into the beautiful forest of Sintra.
This genius is apparent throughout the site. There are many structures that seem perfectly natural, but are not. The waterfall lake and the labyrinthine grotto are two such structures. But really, the entire place feels as if it is almost carved out of the very rock it stands on.
The place has a strange and eerie atmosphere, and if you can manage to ignore the many tourists around you it can even become magical. The labyrinthic network of tunnels is a like a gateway to the unconscious, and the initiation well is straight out of a fairytale. This palace could have been the inspiration for the castle in Disney’s the Beauty and the Beast. The view of Sintra and all the towns and cities around it is impressive from the Palace’s roof courtyard.
The Regaleira chapel is pure white, charming and small, yet opulent in its own way. It is a fascinating chapel I’ve ever been to, and an example of how no religious belief is ever truly separate from all the others that have come before. Apart from the usual Catholic imagery and statues, the chapel also spotted pentagrams surrounding the Order of the Christ Cross and the symbol of the Free Masons on the ceiling of the doorway.
Damp, mysterious, covered in moss and steeped in mysticism, the breathtaking architecture of these so-called initiation wells are a must-see for visitors to the region and not just those with an interest in the occult.