Favorite thing: During our circut of the entire village of Monsaraz we found almost no shade at all. In the following photos you can see that it is as if the entire village was carved out of the stone of the mountain upon which it sits. No trees, no shrubs, no gardens, no water....nothing, just bare stone walls and cobbled pathways. In the first photo you can see one of the steep streets that was a true pain to climb in the middle of the summer heat. There was one small dapple of shade in the last photo where a tree from an inner garden had begun to hang outside over the wall and provided a small dark respite from the sun.
Yes of course, like any decent self sufficient village there MUST BE a castle, and sure enough there is. Found at the extreme end you can climb the walls and have great views both back into the village that supported the castle, or out into the surrounding countryside. The village and castle were there to protect the Portugese border from the incursions of the Spanish just over the hill or river.
I did find on the internet a site that gives you some panoramic views of the castle and the surroundings:
This was the largest church we saw on the main square and it was closed. But as you can see from our photos we found no people outside on the streets, almost as if the entire village was a musuem.
So, while we could not get in to see the interior of the church, I did find this link on the internet that has a panoramic view:
Monsaraz - I found the following information on the internet:
Perched above the River Guardiana on the frontier with Spain, the tiny medieval walled town of Monsaraz is one of the most atmospheric places in the Alentejo. With its narrow cobbled lanes, low-rise old houses and an imposing castle, visitors are offered a feel of medieval Portugal in one of the oldest places in the country. Regained from the Moors in 1167, the town was handed over to the Knights Templar before Dom Dinis added the castle and fortified walls in the 14th century.
What to see: The parish church of Santa Maria do Castelo houses an ornate marble tomb dating from the 13th century. Next door is a religious museum containing a 14th century fresco of a judge being simultaneously tempted by the devil and encouraged by the majestic justice of Christ.
Fondest memory: As for us (Zohara and I) we just enjoy walking the streets of these small villages and sort of "absorb" the atmosphere and wonder what it would have been to live there when there was no plumbing, electricity or other modern amenities. As you can see from the photos here we do tend to notice the small things also, not just the large churches, museums and other major things.
Not to far from Monsaraz is the Anta Olival da Pega (dolmen or cromlech), an ancient burial site that is hidden off the main road amid a pastoral setting and hard to find since there is only a tiny sign at the actual spot itself. The sign showing the turnoff is prominent but not so the one in the field.
Still it WAS fun searching for it, we also spent a few hours alone in the middle of some cork trees amid green pastures, it was nice for a rest from the rocky and cobbled towns.
You can see that only the swallows use it to build their nests today.
Fondest memory: Portugal is inundated with these types of ancient burial sites and in some places you have groupings of several different types.
For a fuller explantion I found this on the internet:
Menhirs are high rocks, often in the form of a phallus. Long ago, they probably had a religious function.
Several menhirs close together, often in the form of a circle or a square, are called cromlechs.
Around Castelo de Vide, there are about 50 menhirs and dolmen Portugal including the largest menhir (7.5m high) of the Iberian Peninsula.
Fondest memory: One of the old border castles protecting the frontier with Spain, Monsaraz is an easy drive east of Evora. The countryside in this whole part of Portugal, the Alentejo, is very pleasant and the roads are excellent, no matter which class of road you choose to reach your destination! From Monsaraz, we continued on north to two more border castle villages - see my pages on 'Marvao' just north of Portalegre and then 'Monsanto' between Castelo Branco and Covilha.
at the top of the castle walls
Fondest memory: there's one section of the castle where yu can walk and having those wonderfull views of the castle itself and alentejo/portugal and spain countryside views.
feel like yur at the top of the world.
take a good look
Fondest memory: another gorgeous sight is obviously with all those houses,
doors and windows, are the rooftops.
aloud to walk on the top of the castle walls you can see the houses roofs all aligned making another lovely view of it.
take a good look at the doors.
Fondest memory: the same is applyed to the dozens of doors, inside those castle walls.
get yur camera a empty digital card and snapshot at will.
also a doorstravelogue at my monsaraz page.
just see. thank yu.
take a good look at the windows
Fondest memory: this wonderfull place in portugal obviously as a lot of interesting points.
once inside yu have to take a good look to the dozens windows on those lovely buildings. i felt amazed seing and taking photos.
i have a nice windowstravelogue at my monsaraz page where yu can see for yourself. windows
thake a good look
Fondest memory: __________________________________________________
up and down to the left or to the right the paths are almost narrowed as shown at the pic.
gorgeous views and lovely sights to snapshot. the most gorgeous town of portugal.
Monsaraz is administratively situated on the District of Évora, about 55km distant from this city and about 190km from Lisbon. This area of Portugal, composed by the Districts of Évora, Portalegre, Beja and Setúbal is known as Alentejo.
Monsaraz is near the Spanish border, being that River Guadiana and the Alqueva Dam “divide” both countries.
If you need information about Monsaraz, the tourism office is situated about half way between the entrance door and the castle, by the parish church.
The house where the office is situated is a nice manor house, with arches on the lower floor, and signaziled with "Turismo" on the main façade.
The white washed houses of Monsaraz are small and all very similar. Although one can find some manor houses on the village, most of the houses are small and built side by side along the streets – with backyards on the other side.
It is very curious to notice the small windows and doors. The narrow windows are meant to protect the house from the weather: it can be freezing cold on winter and very hot on summer on this part of Portugal; smaller windows prevent that the cold and the heat from outside enter the house.
Monsaraz is an enchanting white village enclosed within the castle’s walls, situated on top of a hill on the plains of Alentejo. Houses are small and charming, respecting typical architecture of this zone and epoch of construction.
Monsaraz is probably the eldest village south of River Tejo (Tagus) and there is evidence of pre-historic monuments nearby (megaliths). Main must sees are the castle, the bullring which is situated inside the castle, the beautiful church, the romantic narrow flowered streets and the breathtaking views to the surrounding plains and lakes.