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Sinister Sites: Quinta da Regaleira, an Occult Palace Built for Masonic Rituals

An underground Masonic “initiation well”; A bizarre system of tunnels and grottos; A chapel replete with occult symbols: Here’s a look at Quinta da Regaleira, one of the most blatantly Masonic palaces on earth.

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The region of Sintra, Portugal has always been surrounded by a mystical aura. In Roman times, people of the region built a temple dedicated to Cinthia, the goddess of the moon. Ultimately, the entire region was baptized with a derivation of that name: Sintra.

“Since the beginning of recorded time, Sintra has been regarded as a land cloaked in mysticism. It permeates its steep hillsides and even its air. It’s common to be surrounded in nevoeiro (fog) one moment and the next, bathed in sunlight. You can feel a bigger, stranger power at work in those hills. Its legends have been passed orally through generations and have survived since the time of the Moors — and maybe even before then.”
– Atlas Lisboa, Sintra’s Myths, Legends, and Paranormal Activity

Pena Palace in Sintra.

Sintra and its surroundings have been the site of several bizarre stories, anecdotes, and legends.

In 1930, Aleister Crowley – the most famous occultist in modern history – faked his death near Sintra. Indeed, he let people to believe that he took his own life at Boca do Inferno (Mouth of Hell), a unique seaside cave on which waves crash in a particularly violent manner. Crowley’s fake suicide note stated:

“Can’t live without you. The other mouth of hell that will catch me won’t be as hot as yours.”

Another story involves rocks materializing from thin air.

On an October night in 1984, a call for help was made by the residents of Quinta da Penha Verde over the police radio. Apparently, the inhabitants of the farm were being assaulted by flying rocks. The GNR police and firefighters rushed to the scene, with light projectors. They found that rocks were appearing out of thin air and striking the 10 inhabitants and anything that stood in their path. The police shot rounds into the surrounding woods but to no avail.

One of the firefighters boldly stated to everyone in earshot that he did not believe in witchcraft and was convinced this was only an illusion. A stone the size of a fist promptly shot at him and, had he not stepped back, it would have slammed into his face. Upon closer inspection of the stones themselves, he noticed that they were actually warm to the touch.

The phenomenon seemed to center around the female groundskeeper of the house, Elvira da Conceição Teodoro, who was targeted relentlessly by the stones no matter where she hid. The police and firefighters noticed that when the rocks hit people they would not hurt them badly, but when they hit objects like doors and cars they left a deep dent. The stoning only stopped when the groundskeeper and her family left the farm, finding solace in Queluz.

The reporter that followed this story dug deeper and tracked down Ermilia for an interview. Though suffering from epilepsy, she swore on her life that the story was true, and what’s more, that she had been followed by these strange events all her life.

No one has ever been able to explain what happened that night.
– Ibid.

A portion of the movie The Ninth Gate (starring Johnny Depp) was filmed in a palace located in Sintra. Produced by Roman Polanski (Rosemary’s Baby), the movie is about a 17th-century book that contains a magical secret to summon the Devil. Interestingly enough, the interior of that palace was designed by Luigi Manini – the same architect who created Quinta da Regaleira – a veritable occult palace.

Quinta da Regaleira, an Occult Palace

The front of Quinta da Regaleira.

With its lush vegetation and beautiful architecture, Quinta da Regaleira causes its visitors to experience a piece of heaven. However, as they go down its dizzying “inverted towers” and walk through its dark tunnels, these same visitors end up experiencing a piece of hell.

The heaven-and-hell duality of Quinta da Regaleira is not an accident, it is by design. Every single detail on this estate is a physical representation of occult principles – from the number of stairs that lead below the ground to the colors used in “religious” paintings. While the decorations might look “pretty” to the casual visitor, they take on an incredibly deep meaning to those knowledgeable in alchemy, Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry, and the Knights Templar.

The man behind this occult temple is an eccentric millionaire named António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro who bought the estate at a public auction in 1892.

António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro turned Quinta da Regaleira into an occult palace.

Monteiro was a Brazilian-Portuguese businessman, collector, bibliophile, and entomologist. He was also a prominent Freemason and he gave himself the mission to create one of the most Masonic estates in history.

Amid the lush and otherworldly surroundings, the Fount of Abundance features a marble facade and is adorned with seashells and serpent-like creatures. It is topped by two obelisks which represent Joachim and Boaz – the two pillars of Freemasonry.

Visitors can find a collection of sculptures depicting gods such as Hermes – the mythological founder of Hermetism, the basis of Western occultism.

While the exterior of the palace has a heavenly quality to it, some figures subtly remind us that there are other forces at play as well.

The god Pan looks over with a rather malicious look on his face.

Pan was a prominent deity in Greece. Often depicted with horns and the lower body of a goat, Pan is a phallic deity whose animalistic features represent the carnal and procreative impulses of men.

A sculpture of Pan having sex with a goat from Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum.

Visitors with a keen eye will discover that several goat heads overlook the premises.

Considering that this temple is full of symbolism relating to the Knight Templars, these goat heads are not merely there for decorative purposes. They are mostly likely a representation of the Goat of Mendes and Baphomet – the god of the Knights Templar.

An engraving from Léo Taxil’s “Mystères de la Franc-Maçonnerie” depicting Baphomet being lifted processionally during an initiation ritual.

Speaking of initiations, the most stunning feature of Quinta da Regaleira is its massive “initiation wells” where Masonic initiations took place in the most symbolic of settings.

Initiation Wells

 

This “initiation well” goes 95 feet underground.

While Quinta da Regaleira is said to feature two wells, none of them were used to collect water. Instead, they were massive infrastructures solely built for ritualistic purposes. The well pictured above contains nine platforms which are believed to be a reference to the nine circles of Hell in Dante’s Divine Comedy by Dante. Conversely, it can also refer to the nine skies which constitute Paradise, depending on the point of view of the visitor.

At the bottom of the well an 8-pointed star, also known as the Star of Ishtar.

The star of Ishtar is often always found in “magical” places such as Felicity, the Vatican, and the Los Angeles Central Library.

The two underground wells connect to an intricate system of caves and tunnels.

All of this was built to emulate ancient rituals where initiates were symbolically taken from darkness to light to symbolically experience death and rebirth.

The view from the bottom of the initiation well.

The second well – often referred to as the “imperfect well” – looks much rougher than the main one. According to past visitors, venturing down this thing is an odd and thoroughly creepy experience.

The system of tunnels also leads to various curious areas on the estate.

Leda’s Cave

One cave features a sculpture of Leda and the Swan underneath a hexagram.

Leda and the Swan is a story from Greek mythology where Zeus takes the form of a swan and seduces/rapes Leda, a Spartan queen. For centuries, this story inspired numerous works of art where the sexual encounter is often depicted as violent and forceful. While other interpretations of the story are rather tame, they are nevertheless infused with eroticism.

While this causes one to wonder why this specific sculpture was placed in this specific cave, the other feature of this place – a massive hanging hexagram – adds another layer of mystery.

A hanging hexagram inside Leda’s cave.

The hexagram immediately gives this cave a “magical” purpose. It is known in occult circles as the Hermetic seal of Salomon.

The Hermetic Seal of Salomon visually depicts the concept of “As above, So below”. It represents opposite energies mirroring each other to achieve perfect balance, which leads to magic.

Man’s three bodies are symbolized by an upright triangle; his threefold spiritual nature by an inverted triangle. These two triangles, when united in the form of a six-pointed star, were called by the Jews “the Star of David,” “the Signet of Solomon,” and are more commonly known today as “the Star of Zion.” These triangles symbolize the spiritual and material universes linked together in the constitution of the human creature, who partakes of both Nature and Divinity. Man’s animal nature partakes of the earth; his divine nature of the heavens; his human nature of the mediator.
– Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages

In short, this cave features a hexagram, which represents the union of opposite forces. Leda’s sculpture also the union between male and female energies. This leads one to wonder: What was the purpose of this cave? Did ritualistic sexual encounters (sometimes known as “sex magick”) take place in this cave?

The Chapel

At first glance, this appears to be a typical Catholic chapel. However, like the rest of the estate, it is replete with occult secrets.

The chapel is made of three levels (underground, ground level, and above ground) which is meant to represent the three levels of the Axis Mundi  (the underworld, earth, and heaven). Atop the chapel is a tower-like sculpture that represents an “alchemical furnace”, also known as athanor.

An ancient engraving of an athanor.

Inside the chapel, visitors can find an intricate mixture of Catholic and occult imagery.

At the center of the floor is a Templar cross surrounded by pentagrams and sunwheels, giving the chapel a “magical” dimension.

The centerpiece of the chapel is a painting of Jesus Christ crowning the Virgin Mary. It conceals an esoteric meaning.

The colors worn by Mary each represent a stage of the alchemical Great Work (aka Magnum Opus). Her dark blue cloak represents Nigredo (blackening); Her white head cloth represents Albedo (whitening), her gold shroud represents Citrinitas (yellowing) and her red dress represents Rubedo (reddening). The painting as a whole represents Mary being “crowned” with spiritual transmutation after completing the alchemical Great Work.

On the ceiling is an All-Seeing eye inside a triangle surrounded by light rays. It represents the Masonic Great Architect of the Universe.

A staircase leads to the underground crypt where things get very blatantly occult.

Those who enter the crypt must go through a gate adorned with a pentagram,  hinting at the magical dimension of the place.

Inside the crypt is an altar and Masonic checkerboard pattern floor on which rituals take place.

The map of the estate shows that there’s a tunnel that runs from the crypt to the palace. God only knows what took place on those premises while Monteiro was alive.

In Conclusion

While an entire book could be written about Quinta da Regaleira, it can also be summed up in one word: Occult. The entire estate was custom-made by an eccentric millionaire who carried out his esoteric fantasies to their fullest extent, with no attempts at compromise or hiding the true purpose of the place.

Built in a region that was already known for its mystical aura, Quinta da Regaleira was meticulously planned to host occult rituals that turned into intense, jarring experiences where the candidates experience the dualities between light and dark, life and death, and good and evil.

In short, Quinta da Regaleira is physical proof that the term “occult elite” is not a vague, unproven urban legend. It is a concrete historical fact.

   
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