One of the few places in Europe i had spotted on the web before we left Sweden was the town of Sintra in Western Portugal and Palace ‘Quinta de Regaleira’ in particular. Sintra was home to some royal/wealthy families which spent their summers up in the mountains to get away from the Portuguese summer heat.
Quinta de Regaleira - a UNESCO world heritage site - with it's gardens and palace is one of the most inspiring places i ever visited, sooo much details you could spend months there trying to take it all in. You find yourself on walkways, shortcuts and in cave-systems in this immense garden which takes you through and out in various places. It's all built in a steep slope so you climb up and down in altitude as well. You even reach the initiation well (the photo of which i saw on the web that got me interested) through the grottoes. Symbolism is the thing here and for those who are so inclined this place is a must-visit.
We had hoped to see the other palaces as well but we were a bit late to get to Sintra, got stuck driving up and down the steep hills around town because it’s one way streets and i managed to miss a turn. It probably took us an hour to get back due to heavy traffic. When we finally got to the entrances of the other palaces it was closed for the night at 5PM in the afternoon.
Sintra is well worth a visit if you are in the Lisbon area!