Quinta da Regaleira and Carvalho Monteiro, Portugal
Upon arriving at Quinta da Regaleira, in Sintra, Portugal, it is natural to want to know its history, learn about the sculptures and paintings, and interpret them.
We want to know the ideals represent there, the mysteries behind the artworks, the particularities of its architecture, and much other information.
With Quinta da Regaleira, our instinct will not behave differently.
However, in addition to that information being of the most extreme importance, they are not enough to know the monument.
In this case, it is essential to know the life history of its original owner: António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro.
For practical reasons, I will now refer to António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro as Carvalho Monteiro or simply CM, as he often had himself recorded at Quinta da Regaleira.
To situate ourselves a little in the historical context in which Carvalho Monteiro lived and in which Quinta da Regaleira was built, I list some relevant dates below:
1848, 27’Nov – Carvalho Monteiro was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1859 – Carvalho Monteiro travels from Brazil to Portugal
1871 – Carvalho Monteiro graduated in Law and left incomplete his degree in Philosophy
1879 – Luigi Manini comes to Portugal
1893, 11’Dec – CM buys Quinta da Regaleira for 25 “contos de réis”, the currency at the time.
1898 – CM commission the project to Luigi Manini
1900 – Beginning of the construction of the palace, chapel, and garden
1905 – Beginning of the construction of the palace gardens
1908, 1’Feb – King D. Carlos I was assassinated in Terreiro do Paço, Lisbon
1910, 5’Oct – The shift from the monarchy regime to a republic
1912 – End of palace works, chapel, and garden
1913, ‘Oct – CM is arrested, implicated in the monarchic attempt of 1913 against the republican Afonso Costa. CM was later released
1913, 25’Dec – Death of Perpetua Augusta Pereira de Melo, Carvalho Monteiro’s wife
1918 – End of the garden’s floral decorations
1920, 25’Oct – Carvalho Monteiro dies at Quinta da Regaleira
1949 – Waldemar Jara d’Orey buys Quinta da Regaleira
1988, 12’Jan – Sale in favor of Aoki Corporation
1997 – Sintra City Council buys Quinta da Regaleira from the Japanese group Aoki Corporation
1998 – Opening of Quinta da Regaleira to the public
I take the opportunity to mention that Carvalho Monteiro’s fortune was inherited from his father. The latter traded precious stones, in addition to other ventures.
To understand the work that was carried out in Quinta da Regaleira, it is necessary to bear in mind that Carvalho Monteiro, during his university time in Coimbra, had very close friends as Hintze Ribeiro, Bernardino Machado, Guerra Junqueiro, and others great figures of the time.
As this text will be available in English and is intended to be consulted mostly by non-Portuguese, I suggest researching the names mentioned above.
With such friends, we can only infer that Carvalho Monteiro was a great cultural man, to say the least.
And also, as a man of the 18th century, he was very knowledgeable about esoteric subjects, in addition to a very high level of general culture, as we would say today. Some records say that he would speak Latin as if he spoke Portuguese and his collection of books by Camões was unique.
A fervent Catholic, he was also a convinced monarchist and a personal friend of King D. Carlos.
This explains that, when D. Carlos was assassinated in 1908, 1’Feb, Carvalho Monteiro covered the palace with black and purple crepes for several days as a sign of respect.
The studies on Carvalho Monteiro point him out as a reserved person, with exquisite tastes but not to flaunt them but to enjoy them with family or friends.
However, during the times after the Implantation of the Republic, as CM was a personal friend of the king and being very wealthy, he was the target of a shameful campaign to discredit him. The campaign had its success at the moment, but it doesn’t seem to have stood the test of time.
For those who wanted to discredit CM, he was shown as being miserly. However, for those who knew him closely, he was known as a very generous man, but cautious in spending, humble in his human dealings but firm in his intentions.
He was one of the founding members of the Lisbon Zoo, he was an anonymous patron of people and social works such as Misericórdia de Sintra, the artistic house of the Royal Theater of São Carlos … and more.
There are many references to Carvalho Monteiro being related to Freemasonry. However, this subject divides several authors.
Many authors defend the thesis of CM’s involvement with Freemasonry, and they interpret many signs in Quinta da Regaleira under that concept. However, some proof that there is no evidence whatsoever of that involvement.
The great culture, religiosity, and adherence to the monarchical cause attributed to Carvalho Monteiro are spread throughout Quinta da Regaleira.
Quinta da Regaleira, the palace and gardens that seem to have emerged from a fairy tale, was imagined by its owner who found in Luigi Manini the perfect companion for its execution.
What CM said, Luigi Manini took notes and executed.
Throughout Quinta da Regaleira we will find traces of the personality of Carvalho Monteiro, and we will only understand the raison d’être of each element, considering the personality of its original owner, combined with the mastery of its builder.
I hope this brief text has aroused your curiosity to visit Quinta da Regaleira. I hope I can serve as a guide for this monument in the gallery of my favorites.