Tivoli Palacio de Seteais

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The Legend of Seteais

In 1147, one of the first Christian knights to climb the Sintra Mountains was D. Mendo de Paiva. He found a secret door through which several Moors were trying to escape. Among them was a beautiful Moorish girl, accompanied by an old lady in waiting. When she saw the knight, the young girl shouted “ai!”.

As D. Mendo informed the girl that she was to be his prisoner, she shouted “ai!” again. The lady in waiting then fearfully revealed that her mistress had been put under a spell, and would die the day she said “ai” seven times. When she heard of this secret, the young girl let out her third “ai!”.

D. Mendo did not believe such nonsense, and while he was taking both ladies prisoner, the girl screamed “ai!” once more. She sighed and the lady in waiting shouted “that’s the fifth “ai!”. The knight told them to wait where they were, as he was going to take them to a safe place.

As soon as he had left, a group of Moors appeared to rob the women. With a hefty blow from a dagger, they cut off the lady in waiting’s head. Seeing her die, the young girl let out a mournful “ai”. This was the sixth “ai” and the seventh was the last thing she said when she saw the dagger coming towards her.

When D. Mendo returned, he swore to avenge the death of the young girl. In her memory he named that secluded area of Sintra “Seteais” – Seven “ai’s”.

To this day, in the Seteais gardens, there is a place, where if you shout “ai,” you’ll hear an echo come back seven times, in honor of the girl who died there.

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