A totally unique village setting
A little out of the way - may be too quiet for some!
Worth going out of your way!
I don't know if it really is "the most Portuguese village of Portugal" as it is widely advertised. It leaves the sensation of a dead village, but I must admit that villages are dying in Portugal, so even that is "very Portuguese". Its visit is interesting, and even if you don't dare the hard climbing to the castle, the visit of only the village...more
If you feel in good condition you may accept the challenge of climbing to the castle. It has nothing particularly relevant, but it obliges to walk along all the village, and reaching the top, it rewards you with some awesome sights. Someone said that Monsanto is the most Portuguese village of Portugal. I don't know if it's true, but tradition is...more
Also called the clock tower, for obvious reasons, this is the tallest building in the village, providing good views to those who don't risk the hard climbing to the castle. Atop of this 14th century tower, a silvery clock was the official prize for "the most Portuguese village of Portugal".more
Just outside the castle wall, on the other route that goes back down to the village, are several megalithic graves. They look quite impressive as several seem to have been dug or shaped out of a single huge block of stone. We were quite surprised to see these structures, as we didn't see any info about it, and we only happened on them as we were...more
a stroll through the village's narrowed streets with lots of interesting, historic wise, buildings with Manueline doors and the house were it's most known inhabitant, doctor and writer, Fernando Namora lived and practised, and were his most known novel ( fragments of a doctor's life ) take place.more
Of course, most people don't climb up to the castle to see the castle, and I certainly didn't either.The only real reason to go up is to see the views down to Monsanto which are quite spectacular.It is easy to see houses amongst the rocks, and all the red tiled roofs intertwined amongst eachother in all sorts of weird shapes and patterns. It is...more
There isn't too much to say about these castle steps really! You have to climb them to go up over the castle wall and into the castle.I have never seen anything like these, and I found their design quite interesting.They look like they could be quite awkward to climb, but they feel very natural to go up and down.more
Monsanto has a ruined castle up on the hill above it. It has a great position as you can see down all around you and it is quite a step trek to get up there. There are still some walls left, but nothing that you could call as castle.This castle was originally built by the Lusitanians as a fortified development, and was improved from there. It was...more
Is this house supposed to be a two storey bedsit (i.e. one small appartment downstairs, and another different one upstairs)?I don't reckon I could stand up inside either of them being over 6 foot tall (approx 185 cm), and there looks to be very little space in both of them.However the Monsanto charm mans that theey do look very quaint and...more
This picture shows houses that would probably make a modern town planner have a fit due to their different heights, orientations and they way they are all squashed toegther.Whilst this would look pretty bad in a modern town, this just adds to the charm in Monsanto where all of the houses have had to be built around obstacles or eachother.In 1938,...more
I have to admt I would feel a shade wary about living in this house!It has been built UNDER a rock! It looks like somebody doesn't quite trust the rock either, as a stick of rock has been placed inbetween the two big rocks to brace them apart, you may have to enlarge the photo to see this however.This picture also shows a terrace built up from this...more
Unfortunately I didn't quite have a lens wide enough with me to do this justice, but trust me when I say this house was tiny!This house had been abandoned for some reason and everything removed apart from some collapsed door and fallen in roof. The front door was propped open, so it was possible to look inside.This picture shows the view from the...more
These are some of Monsanto's most beautiful old buildings, and are very near to the church and the Pousada. The term Pousada may not be familiar with a lot of people. If you are familiar with Spain, you will probably have heard of a Parador - it is a pretty up market hotel that is run by the government. A Pousada is Portugals answer to a...more
In my transportation tips, I warned against trying to drive too far into Monsanto. This picture may give you some insight into why you shouldn't try!The roads are incredibly narrow, and there is every chance you will find a donkey, cow or other animals just wandering around in the street in front of you meaning you could get stuck for quite some...more
This church is quite old, it also looks quite small, even for a village the size of Monsanto.It is fairly prominent as it sits on a little outcrop of rock, and is one of the only towers in the village. It also has a weathervane on the top of it. so you can normally find it quite easily wherever you are in the village.The weathervane is in the shape...more
Two things make Taverna Lusitania stand out, first and foremost was the warm and smiling welcome that we got from the owner Joao and the second was the super fantastic view that we had on the "perch" above the town of Monsanto. It is the PERFECT place to take a load off your feet after touring Monsanto.If you manage to make it to Joao and his wife...more
After getting settled into the hotel and changing to appropriate dinner clothes, we walked the nearby streets of Castelo Branco to see what we could find. It was about 8 PM but the pickings seemed slim - most places were almost empty and had big TVs blaring away. As a result, we decided to return to the hotel to give them a chance, since we had...more
It was hot work climbing up and down the boulders and hilly streets of Monsanto! After an hour and a half of that, we were ready to sit down somewhere so we could admire the view at our leisure. We had noticed the cute-looking Cafe Jovem as we began our walk up from the car-park as we entered the village, so we headed back there to see what was...more
Monsanto is a little out if the way, so your best bet of getting there is by car as I should imagine public transport is not to frequent!Monsanto is also pretty high, so should you try and go by bike, you will be in for a lot of hills and climbing.However going by car brings on its own difficulties. Parking is rather hard to come by once you get...more
Monsanto is pretty small, and parking is pretty difficult, and the roads are very very narrow and have very tight bends. To look around the town, the only way to do it is to park wherever you can find a space, and then get out and walk.If you want to go up to the castle, you must walk, there is no other option, and there is a little bit of climbing...more
Nearing the end of our walk to the very top of Monsanto's hill, and past the ruins of its old fort and a church, we suddenly heard bells tinkling. Over the next boulder and there was a herd of goats munching away with the best view in the house! They seemed quite curious since it was not long before they drifted over toward us for a closer look....more
As we drove around Portugal I was fascinated by the cork oak trees that we occasionaly came across. These trees are native to the Mediterranean where they occur in open woodlands and on small hills. They have a thick dead outer bark that can be harvested roughly every 10 years, leaving the inner bark healthy and able to regenerate several other...more
As we passed through the tiny hamlet of Relva, only minutes away from Monsanto itself, we came upon these two huge boulders that had obviously fallen over. I did not like the look of it, so stopped the car to see what I could do to help. As you can see, I have managed to get one of them partially upright but had to quit at that - it was just too heavy to reach the full upright position.
As with the other castles that we had visited to that point during our trip (Sintra, Aljezur, Monsaraz and Marvao), Monsanto started life as fortified settlement on top of the highest peak they could find. This area of Portugal had been part of the Roman settlements and there are still remnants of their presence in nearby villages. Over the course of history, the inhabitants of this part of Portugal took to the high ground as they sought to defend themselves during their back-and-forth wars with the Moors 800-1000 years ago. This was our first view of Monsanto, as we prayed for the sun to come through and clear away the clouds - which it did in its own good time!
The winding paths (streets) of Monsanto are winding for a reason...as you pass by, and UNDER some of the enormous house sized (or larger) boulders strewn around Monsanto you will know why. The people of this village built the entire village in, under, over and around the boulders found here, none of this level and clear ground before construction....more