These Mysterious Initiation Wells in Portugal Are Kind of Creepy

Image source: CVLT Nation

In the misty forests of Sintra, Portugal, lies a weird and mysterious place called Quinta da Regaleira. The property consists of a Romantic palace and chapel, and a luxurious park that features lakes, grottoes, wells, benches, fountains, and a vast array of exquisite constructions.

Built in 1904 by a man named António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro, the place resonates with its owner’s fascination with the occult, masonry and alchemy. Symbols of Rosicrucianism, the Knights Templar and Freemasonry are hidden throughout its spectacular architecture.

View of the palace. Image credit: Ajay Suresh

The property includes two wells dug into the ground that better resemble underground towers lined with stairs. The larger one is almost 30 meters deep and ends in a tiled floor depicting a compass and the Templar cross. A spiral staircase runs down the well walls, with nine levels of 15 steps, signifying the nine levels of Hell from Dante’s Inferno.

These wells never served as water sources. Instead, they are believed to have been used to perform Mason initiation rites and rituals, although nothing is known for sure about their purpose. The spacing of the landings on the staircases, combined with the number of steps in the stairs, are believed to be linked to Tarot mysticism. Other references may be to Freemasonry or Knights Templar rituals. The smaller well contains straight stairs that connect a series of ring-shaped floors to one another. This well is also called the ‘Unfinished Well’.

The tunnels shown below these wells to one another, in addition to various caves and other monuments located around the park.

Looking down the Initiation well. Image credit: Stijndon
Rain pours down the Initiation Well. Image credit: Stijndon
Bottom of the Initiation well. Image credit: Stijndon
View upwards from the bottom of the Initiation well. Image credit: Stijndon

The park also contains an extensive and enigmatic system of tunnels, which have multiple entry points that include: grottoes, the chapel, Waterfall Lake, and ‘Leda’s Cave,’ which lies beneath the Regaleira Tower. The Initiation Well connects to other tunnels via a series of underground walkways.

The Labyrinthic Grotto seen from the lake. Image credit: Lusitana
Tunnel starting from the Eastern Grotto. Image credit: Diego Delso

Sources: 1, 2


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