This inverted tower – Initiation Wells, is one of the most intriguing parts of the Quinta da Regaleira Gardens. Climbing this tower was much like climbing any other tower, the only difference is that… it is buried underground.
There are two Initiation Wells in Sintra, in the Quinta da Regaleira Gardens and both are connected with underground channels. You can see the depth of the tower in the photograph and it actually measures at approximately 27 meters. This site was never planned to be utilised as water storage, as a matter of fact, there is an interesting tale to tell regarding this inverted tower.
Initiation Well was previously used as a ceremonial function. For example, it was a place for Tarot Initiation Rites. It involved an even number of stairs, combined with spacings in-between which had connotations to Tarot mysticism. The number of platforms is said to have reference to Dante’s “Divine Comedy”, whereby nine platforms symbolise nine circles of Hell, that is nine parts of Purgatory and nine skies of paradise.
The stairs going up and down carry the symbolic meaning of death and rebirth. Climbing up the inverted tower from darkness to light and inhaling the wet air of underground construction was a particularly interesting experience. Looking at this photo today now sends a shiver up my spine.