This time around I decided to tell you a little bit about Monsanto, a unique, quirky village located in the interior of Portugal, close to Idanha-a-Nova.
Back in 1938 Monsanto was elected the most Portuguese village of Portugal. This was a contest promote during our dictatorship with the aim to recognise the Portuguese village that was in its most authentic shape, in order to promote what is national over the international products that were starting to penetrate in the market. Although it is a “title” associated with a bad period of our history it remained until today!
This village is part of the Historical Villages Network (http://www.aldeiashistoricasdeportugal.com/en/monsanto) and the Geopark Naturtejo. The integration in both the network and the geopark enhance Monsanto’s historical and natural importance. Its history remote to the palaeolithic era and since then many civilizations pass through here and made it their home, being possible to see evidence from the Roman, Visigothic and Arabic occupancy. Another important people were the Templars which built a castle, being still possible to visit its ruins.
A part from its history, Monsanto is very famous for its architecture. After a steep climb (the highest point reaches 750 meters of altitude) let yourself take in the never ending views of the region and be amazed/intrigued by how the houses were built carved in the huge granite stones. The enormous granite rocks become part of most of the village houses, defying what we consider normal!
This is region also has some really neat artisan shops, specially in terms of wool products which presents modern and distinct high-quality products!
To stay there are many small size accommodation places, most in rural areas. I just wrote about one of them, Natura Glamping, which you can consult here: https://viatoriusblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/09/lodging-natura-glamping-fundao/
Monsanto is already very close to Spain, inserted in an area with many small villages and cities to visit, but having your own transportation is mandatory! The main cities nearby are Castelo Branco (50 km) which is very beautiful and well preserved, Covilhã (64 km) and Guarda (91 km).
I do think that this region is definitely worthy of a visit! But when you come try to see as many places as possible, because since most of them are small villages there’s no point on coming just to see one. In spite of that the natural scenic views and all the history these villages evoke is enough to plan a road trip to Beira Baixa (that’s how this region is designated).
As usual, I end with some photographs I took and that I hope you’ll sharpen your curiosity about another mystic place in Portugal: