Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Sintra, Day 2.

Stayed an extra day in Sintra to visit Palacio da Pena (was closed yesterday, being Monday), constructed by Prince Ferdinand of Bavaria as a summer retreat. Boy, what a garish piece of architecture (pics here). What a mish-mash of styles: Moorish tilework, Manueline windows, German & Portuguese style mess.

Which just goes to show that being rich and royal ≠ taste.


Saw Lisbon from one of the Palace towers, with the two bridges (Vasco da Gama and 25th of April) flanking it. Neat seeing that and thinking: Oy! That's where I just came from, 35 kms away!

Then went and visited the Quinta de la Regaleira. Would make an awesome hotel. But the coolest thing about the Quinta de la Regaleira is the initiation well. At the bottom of the well (see movie here), which must be 20 or 30 meters deep, is a cavern, with twisting passageways almost studiously designed to disorient a hapless "victim", and aptly named "The Labyrinthine Grotto", eventually leading to either another little well (see pic here), or to a mini-lake, again a nice place to take your victim at nighttime: challenge them to find the stepping stones by moonlight, otherwise fall onto the pond, all the while with a dog chained to the adjacent stone doghouse barking horrendously....Could come right off The Hound of the Baskervilles, huh?

Heh, these Victorians were sure a strange bunch...

You see, the whole of the grounds of the Quinta de la Regaleira is designed with the allegorical "journey through life"/peregrinatio mundi motif, so all the little nooks and crannies, the well, for instance, the grotto, the courts and lakes and fountains, with names such as "Fount of Abundance", and "Guardian's Entrance", and "Terrace of the Celestial" and the like, are supposed to be little "stops" in an alegorical stroll you can take when you're bored from too much reading at home. I tell you man, the owners must've thrown some really good parties, what with the "make the guests ascend through the Initiation Well from Hell into Paradise and then walk among the Founts of Abundance" kind of thing. Oh, and the garden, too, has lots of hidden corners with little seats built in out of stone, expressly for the purpose for lovers to kissy kissy. Hah ha. {shrug}.

Tomorrow: bike northwards towards Torres Vedras or Caldas da Rainha, then stop.

No comments: