Monsanto is a lovely village perched in a mountain. The houses made of local stones, the small streets, the beautiful flowers everywhere. In the top and in a quite a hike you can get to the castle. Imponent and strong getting there shows how difficult it should be to conquer it. There is a walking tour around the mountain with impressive views passing by the old Romanic church that is just a ruin nowadays.
As most cities there is a legend this one from roman times. The local people were inside the fortress under siege for 7 years. Food was now scarce and the last sheep had been killed there was just one cow left. The chief and his daughter created a plan. They would throw the last cow to the Romans and laugh as a sign of the food they still had. The Romans just couldn’t believe their eyes when the cow was given to them. Tired from the years of siege they left.
There is another legend of a bitter woman called Ricarda that had a terrible temper with everyone. The only person that looked at her with kindness was Amador a holy man that inhabited a cave in the hills and loved all god creatures. Ricarda’s temper was so bad she was eventually forced to leave town returning some years later with a kid. Amador once again received Ricarda and asked to baptized the kid but Ricarda once again protested of her life and her kid that was a crier and that easier than finding friends she would find devils to take her to hell. Suddenly a storm came, the sun disappeared behind a red cloud and a sinister laughter was heard. A bunch of demons appeared and took the kid and the bitter Ricarda. It is said Amador prayed with such faith that the demons left the kid behind in a rock without a scratch. The kind man took the kid and raised it with the help of the milk of a doe. The kid grew and both gained the fame of saints. Next to the cave they lived a chapel was erected that still exists today it is called São Pedro de vir a corça (something like Saint Peter of seeing the doe).
The old castle is impressive and seems somewhat lost in time with the herbs growing everywhere.
The people are nice and friendly but you somewhat fill the roughness of time. Saramago the literature noble prize used to say: “We must understand what there is of stone in these people and find what of them people passed to stone”.
In the 30’s it was considered the most Portuguese of all Portuguese villages.
The city of Idanha a Nova is filled with old manor houses not all of them in the best state of conservation.
- Solar of Marquis of Graciosa, from XV century a symbol of the feudal power.
- Cunhas House - XVII century;
- XV century houses from São Pedro Street;
- Corso House - XVIII century
- Casa Pignatelli
- Trigueiros de Aragão House - XVIII century.
The small XIII century castle overlooks the region. Today it isn't much than a ruin with good views.
Within the old castle area you can also find the main church of town. From medieval origin was rebuilt in the XVI century. One of the highlights is the golden altar.
Dom Dinis tower is another of the highlights of the area dating back to the XIII century.
Schedule: Always open
There aren't a lot of options around Idanha to eat and around town you can see signs talking about a certain Helana, a pizzeria.
You finally get to a narrow street where inside an old granite house you can find the restaurant, the place is dark and the windows covered in cloths to even further reduce the light inside.
The food was good and is done by a good chef that has participated in many national and international competitions. I ate an Uruguay "picanha" with pinneaple and beans rice that was great altough the rice could have a bit more of flavor. As dessert I tried the tepid cake of chocolate with raspberries it was good but not incredible. The menu is extensive and I saw no one eating the pizzas and includes special delicacies like sheep's milk butter, fish soup, kebab of fruit with creme brullée, "cabidela" rice, veal chopstick, grated codfish, amongst others.
The service however did not correspond to the level of the food. It was slow and somewhat rispid.
11:00h to 16:00h
18:30h to 24:00h
Closes Tuesday and Wednesday
Favorite Dish: The picanha was excellent but everything seemed great.