Well, well, well, the boy fell in the well. I never really thought that old saying would come in handy, but when you stumble upon (and hopefully not stumble into) a famous well, what else is there really to say? Well apparently, there is a ton to say about the Initiation Well in Sintra, Portugal. This famous well is a site to see for its beauty and poetic meaning.

When I first read about the incredible Quinta da Regaleira estate, the Initiation Well came up, and all I could think was: what in the world…? The first thing that came to mind when reading about this cryptic and slightly frightening title was: fountain of youth in Portugal? Wrong. The Initiation Well was designed by its owner Antonio Augusto Carvalho Monteiro and architect Luigi Manini in 1900. Leveling out at 27 meters deep, the well acts as a symbol of both a demise into and a rise out of Hell (we guess it really depends on your attitude that day). So clarification: There is no fountain of youth in Sintra, but there is an initiation into Hell…

The well is designed with a staircase that splits into nine different platforms, all of which are adorned in the allegories from a past Portugal’s medieval times, but there is a greater meaning in the well’s division. Since the well itself represents rebirth or plummeting, the spiraling staircase is reminiscent of Dante’s Divine Comedy, a story about Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, which sections the three into nine different circles.

If you are interested landmarks and the symbolism behind their creation, then the Initiation Well might just be the next place you ought to stop!

The Initiation Well

Flickr photo via Celine Colin.

Will you visit the Initiation Well?


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