Left Continue shopping
Your Order

You have no items in your cart

L'étrange village de Monsanto

The Curious Village of Monsanto

Are you looking for an unusual walk in Portugal? Go to the village of Monsanto.
This small village of about 1200 inhabitants, located in the central-eastern part of Portugal, not far from the Spanish border, is absolutely out of the ordinary. Well known, even beyond the borders, Monsanto is perched on a low mountain in the south-east of the Serra de Estrela.

Monsanto - Credit Viagens e caminhos


A historic village, Monsanto has a singular charm: its houses are built entirely of local stone and some are even set directly into the mountain rock. The giant granite rocks are an integral part of their structure and give the village a troglodyte look. A real spectacle!

Rich of an extraordinary architecture and an interesting past, the hamlet received in the 20th century two awards: the one of the most Portuguese village of Portugal in 1938, and the one of historical village in 1995.

A true iconic visit of the region, Monsanto offers a unique experience to its visitors. Find in this article, everything you need to know to visit the stone village of Portugal.


The Story of Monsanto Village

If the history of the Monsanto hill goes back to the mists of time, the human presence in this place goes back to the Paleolithic. The site was in turn occupied by Romans, Visigoths or Moors and one can still observe the traces of these different passages while strolling in its narrow streets.

It is said that the village resisted from this stronghold, for 7 years, the siege of the Romans in the IIᵉ century BC. The Festival of the Cruzes that takes place every year in the village, on May 3, commemorates this distant resistance of the ancestors of these places.
In 1165, when D. Afonso Henriques took the country from the Moors and became the first king of Portugal, he decided to bequeath the lands of Monsanto to the Knights Templar and particularly to one of his knights: Gualdim Pais. A Portuguese crusader and brother-knight of the Order of the Temple, Gualdim Pais would later become the founder of the city of Tomar.
The village was taken over by the Knights Templar and the Monsanto Castle, located at the top of the hill at 763 meters high, was built in the 12th century.

Throughout the Middle Ages, Monsanto was an important regional trading center. Over time, however, the village lost its importance and its population gradually declined.
A visit to Monsanto will take you on a journey through time. 


What to do at Monsanto?

The village offers one of the most unusual landscapes in Portugal. In fact, the town was developed on the slope of the mountain using granite stone blocks as walls or roofs of its houses. The show through the streets is extraordinary.
Blazoned palaces, Manueline style portals and even the house where the doctor and writer Fernando Namora lived and ran a clinic (from which he drew inspiration for his novel "Retalhos da Vida de um Médico"), will add interest to your stroll through Monsanto. 

Solar do Marquês da Graciosa - Credit Aldeias historicas de Portugal


Among the sites not to be missed is the Lucano or Clock Tower (14ᵉ century). It is an ancient bell tower that bears the symbol that made Monsanto the "Most Portuguese Village in Portugal". For the locals, this bell tower is imbued with great symbolism. At the top, you will see a reproduction of the Silver Rooster, won in the National Information Service competition in 1938.

Lucano tower - Credit Stringfixer


Just next door, the Church of Mercy, which dates from the 16th century. It is located on the square of the pillory. The interior houses three altars, a representation of the cycle of the passion of Christ and a statue of St. Peter.

Igreja da misericórdia - Credit Aldeias historicas de Portugal


Continue your journey through the narrow streets of the village. Enjoy the flowered nooks and crannies, ancient fountains, taverns, the baroque-style Matriz church dating from 1768, and again the 16ᵉ century Chapel of the Holy Spirit. All this in the middle of big rocks!

Capela do esperito santo - Credit Aldeias historicas de Portugal


On your way, don't miss the Romanesque chapel of São Miguel do Castelo.

Capela de São Miguel - Credit Aldeias historicas de Portugal


Want to get some height? The climb up to the castle, although difficult, is amply rewarded by one of the most fascinating viewpoints in the region. We highly recommend that you go there at the end of the day to enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets in Portugal.

Castelo de Monsanto - Credit Aldeias historicas de Portugal


Finally, if you want to refresh yourself a bit, the cool waters of the idyllic river beach of Pego, in Penha Garcia (12 km from Monsanto) will offer you all the freshness you need.

Praia fluvial de Penha Garcia - Credit Center of Portugal

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.