Thursday, February 10, 2011
What I am about to describe is going to sound like pure fabrication, but here goes. We visited Regaleira Palace, built in 1918 by an opera-loving royalist with a lot of money, who loved mystery and intrigue. On the outside, it is very Halloween-esque, the classic palace imagined on spooky, stormy nights being lit up by lightning with perhaps, dare I say, a howl in the distance. In the entrance, you are greeted by the cross of the Knights Templar tiled into the floor, flanked with red velvet-covered, silver-latched doors, which contrast quite nicely with the creamy, yellow walls. Very lovely, I would definitely let this opera-loving royalist choose a color scheme for my house. After winding through many rooms with beautiful wood-carved ceilings and up spiraled stairs we are spit out into a dark library. I was tailing behind, as always, due to my incessant need to photograph everything, not just once, but maybe three or four times, when I reached the book-filled room. Jason immediately warned me to be careful because there was a large drop around the entire perimeter of the room. My stomach lurched as I examined the room seemingly suspended in mid-air with both of my kids standing in the middle of it. I carefully stepped in and examined the drop to find that it was only an optical illusion pulled off with mirrors and a half foot drop. Very cool. I think we might need one in our house. The boys, at this point, decided that Rigiliera was kind of like disneyland where you can get hurt. After spiraling up a tiny staircase, we peaked out on a tiny spire just barely big enough to hold the four of us and soaked in the views of the Moorish Castle, Pena Palace, and Monserrate Palace. Time to explore the grounds with its chapel, ponds, gardens, wells, plethora of towers and.....the underground network of cavernous tunnels. This part was very, VERY cool. We came upon a beautiful little pond covered in tiny, green seeds making it look like it was carpeted with moss, complete with stepping stones, emerging from a craggy, pock-marked limestone cave. At the end of the path, we climbed into the cave and wandered through the dark to the other side of the pond where we could complete the loop with those oh-so picturesque stepping stones across the water. Again, due to the photography, I was left behind as Jason and the boys made their way through the passage and as I stumbled alone, I unknowing stepped right into a pitch black underground pond, soaking my foot and ankle. Luckily, I remembered after this, that I was carrying a flashlight in my bag. So began the cave exploring. With excitement building, we entered another cave and ended up in the bottom of a rough well encircled by a lovely stone staircase. After winding up from the depths of this well, we discovered a secret door (secret door, does it get cooler than that?) built into the rock that spun if pushed on, opening up to the top of a beautifully-finished well where we peered down to the patterned tile floor and the stairs spiraling its circumference. Down the stairs we excitedly ran in dizzying circles to more labyrinths of caves to be explored leading to towers and grottos, to an underground aquarium and more towers, and onto winding, narrow pathways in the forest where each turn was met with locked doorways mounted into the hillside which we were sure had hobbits living in them. If you choose not to believe any of this, I won't hold it against you.
Click here for photographic proof.