Aldeia de Monsanto went down in history as the “most Portuguese village in Portugal”. A charming destination to schedule a visit.
THE Monsanto village It has long been considered “the most Portuguese village in Portugal”. Located in Beira Baixa, it is 25 kilometers from Idanha-a-Nova and is served by National Roads 239 and 567.
It is located on the steep slopes of a granite hill, where the houses “push” between large boulders and there are backyards and vegetable gardens.
It is a historic village that has traces of human presence since the Paleolithic era. Much later, at the dawn of nationality, the town was donated by D. Afonso Henriques to the Knights Templar, after its conquest from the Moors in 1165.
The fact that it is a very well-preserved space makes the village of Monsanto an appropriate destination for those who appreciate history and, by the way, fava bean and coriander soup and rabbit rice, typical dishes of the region.
Monsanto: find out what to see and do between boulders and granite
Right at the entrance of the village, there is the Igreja Matriz, also known as Igreja São Salvador. Its façade immediately catches the eye, especially for its beautiful rose window.
It has a round arched portal, a frame with geometric decoration, topped by a frieze, and the inscription “San Salvador”, the name of its patron saint.
The lateral facades have Manueline openings. An interesting architectural example that greatly enriches the village’s heritage.
Cruise from San Salvador
Close by is the Cruzeiro de São Salvador, an octagonal column, on top of which there is a cross with a simple configuration. It is an obligatory place to visit, as it constitutes a symbolic space of the village.
Church of Mercy
Another church, this time the Igreja da Misericórdia which, before the Mother Church existed, served as the parish church of Monsanto.
It is located in Largo do Pelourinho and is also worth a visit. In this case, it features signs of the Renaissance style and is also one of the ex-libris of the village.
Lucano Tower or Clock Tower
Continuing to follow this route, after the Igreja da Misericórdia, you will pass by Torre de Lucano or Torre do Relógio.
This is an old bell tower that displays a replica of the Silver Rooster, a kind of symbol of the epithet conquered in 1938 by Monsanto, the “most Portuguese village in Portugal”.
From this place, you can have an incredible view over the entire village of Monsanto.
And, speaking of viewpoints, a good place to capture fantastic views is a little above the terrace of the restaurant Petiscos & Granito.
From there, you can perfectly observe the unique combination between the granite boulders and the houses, as a single set.
At the top of the village, there is a cave with a small entrance. It is a kind of shelter at the base of the granite boulders.
Entering this space is worth it, especially to understand how the rocks are perfectly integrated into the constructions of this village that has always seen its geology as a resource and not an obstacle.
Bald Foot Rock
If you head towards the Miradouro do Forno, you can follow a small dirt track, through which you will find a huge boulder, which is known as Penedo do Pé Calvo.
This is another good spot to admire the surrounding landscape, and there is even space for a picnic.
On the way to the castle, at the top of the village, the furdas, the pigsties that were formerly used in Monsanto, are preserved. Despite not being very well preserved, these spaces reflect the importance of the pig as a resource and sustenance for a region, a consumer of its home, namely through sausages.
Monsanto Castle is a must visit, but maybe it’s better to have a very energetic meal before trying to reach it. It is further away from the center of the village and its climb requires good lungs. In any case, there is no better viewpoint than that one, so a trip there is essential.
Where to eat
In addition to fava bean and coriander soup and Rabbit RiceMonsanto also reserves other specialties such as Iberian pork cheeks (medium) and red bean migas.
How to get
If you intend to visit the historic village of Monsanto, you will really have to “take the car” and face about 3 hours of travel.
If coming from Lisbon, take the A1 and A23 and then the national roads N233 and N239 to Monsanto. If coming from Porto, take the A1 and A25, then head towards Monsanto via Penamacor.