Monsanto, the Real Stone Village
This time I’ll take you in a special tour deep in the village. This isn’t a common village, like other village. But this is a stone village, namely Monsanto. Monsanto is an authentic Portuguese village built between gigantic stones. We can see many houses squeezed between gigantic boulders and stunning views. Its appearance hasn't changed from time to time, with tiny streets carved from the rock. The location of this village is in Southeast of Serra da Estrela (Portugal), perched on the side of a mountain. Many people called this as stone houses.
Monsanto is a small village, having a significant population in Roman times. In the twelfth century, D. Afonso Henriques donated the population, conquered from the Moors, the Order of the Templars. Probably there is already a fortified settlement in prehistoric times, as identified in the vicinity materials of Paleolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age.
The land of rare beauty as the symbol of the gigantic boulders and manpower play the lead role. "Holy Mountain" is the bulwark of charismatic Erges border, so the Monsanto people brave to say that "Monsanto who conquers and conquers the world." In the past of the legends and stories related to invasions and attacks on the population.
By preserving the natural harmony of rock fragments, made this village never outdated. Why I can say like this, because of the special layout of Monsanto has not changed over the past century. That’s why Monsanto claimed as a national asset. It was voted “most Portuguese village in Portugal”, in 1938 by national contest. Monsanto itself is an authentic Portuguese village. All the uniqueness made this village turned it into a “museum city”. The building restrictions have succeeded in keeping the village as a live museum. The visitors have seen the beauty of village in terms of authenticity of the buildings made of stone. Monsanto is the continuation of special tour between Almeida and Belmonte along the Spanish border.
From the picture we can see how some big stone looks like a giant statue. The big stone as a decoration from this village as something beautiful and attract many tourist as well. Tiny streets make us easy to explore the detail of Monsanto as stone village. The character was built from the ancient era make this stone as remarkable of the great architecture. Personally, Monsanto remind me about “Hercules” movie, where the people living in stone house with ancient tradition.
Ruins of the castle
The locals for hundreds of years build out their houses and created the real harmony of stone. We can see how this village is far away from modern technologies. But the people are still willing to pay for this style. This is unusual and unique stone houses stand in the Portuguese town of Monsanto. Once as the most magnificent view from Monsanto are the ruins of the castle of the former Lusitanian and the castle a ruined Romanesque chapel. Although it is not easy to reach Monsanto by public transportation, but we can still reach this village by car from the neighboring towns or the serra da Estrela.
Monsanto stands in the Northeast side of Idanha Lands, nestled on a steep hill slope. There are several villages along the slope and at the bottom of the hill. The village of Monsanto, wild nature and human construction are in harmony. The giant boulders forming houses, even serving them solo, sometimes serving them on the wall. Still maintains the village authenticity because most residents were moving into an area of the valley, which gave rise to an urban core.
It's a very ancient place since the Paleolithic Era. Mosanto as the historical village is one of the most remarkable in Europe. The medieval castle is situated on the granite cliffs at the highest point of the village at 758m high. Even the tourist can see stunning views of the surrounding countryside from the top of the 400 feet high hill. From this hill stands a very old square built fortress. The tourists may well find the most memorable sights of their vacation.
Hotel Estalagem de Monsanto
But how do we stay here for a couple of days? Don’t worry about that. There’s a hotel which is situated in the town of Monsanto. The exactly place is in the east of Portugal close to the Spanish border or less than 160 km's from Salamanca. Hotel Estalagem de Monsanto has 10 rooms with private bathroom. This hotel has succeeded in creating a balance between modern comfort and traditional style. Hotel Estalagem de Monsanto is completed with bar and restaurant, it also has an open fireplace. The restaurant at Estalagem de Monsanto offers regional and international cuisine. Such as: various soup (Pumpkin Soup, Mushroom Soup, Broad Bean Soup with spicy Sausage, Chestnut Soup, Turnip Soup), fish menu (Octopus in the Oven with Tomatoes, Beans with Codfish, Stuffed Trout with Cured Ham), meat menu (Veal Breast with Vegetables, Veal with Tomato Sauce), various dessert and fruits (Cheese Cake & Grape Fruit, Fig Cake and Almonds, Chestnut Pudding). The menu is always changed from day by day with special offers.
What can we see here
Mother Church was built in the 15th century and restored in the 18th century. Roman doorway as the prove that it still keeps its older elements. Antiga Aldeia (Old Wine Cellar), Pousada de Monsanto, Antiga Capela do Soccorro, Igreja da Misericódia (Mercy Church), Torre do Relógio (Clock Tower), Gruta (Cave), Forno Comunitário (Communial Oven), Porta da Traição (Betrayal Door), Casa do Guarda (Sentry House), St. Maria do Castelo Church, the Governors' House, Capela de São João (St. Johns Chapel), Torre do Pião (Pin Tower), Pinheiro Family's Manor House, Largo do Cruzeiro (Cross Square), Capela do Espírito Santo, Capela de São Miguel do Castelo.
Torre do Relógio (Clock Tower)
Capela de São Miguel do Castelo
Stone in Everywhere
Route to Monsanto
But how do we get there? I got this information from official website of Monsanto homestead. We can use a normal road map over Portugal to find Castelo Branco and then follow the roads from here to Monsanto. We can use 5-hour train from Porto to Castelo Branco, and then connecting to Monsanto. From Porto to Castelo Branco we can take the Bus. The bus journeys approximately about 4 hours 30 minutes. Another suggestion is from Lisbon to Castelo Branco we can use train (taking approximately three hours) or we can use express bus (2 1/2 hours) from "Terminal Rodoviario de Seite Rios" near Lisbon Zoo. Bus time table is from Castello Branco – Monsanto and From Monsanto – Castello Branco. We can follow this time table:
Castelo Branco - Monsanto:
- 11:40 Sundays or Mondays if a holiday.
- 12:25 All working days, except Sundays and holidays.
- 17:15 Working days, except Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
Monsanto - Castelo Branco:
- 07:15 All working days, except Sundays and holidays.
- 14:22 Sundays or Mondays if a holiday.
Monsanto in sketch
How do we find Hotel Estalagem de Monsanto? When we reach Monsanto, go up to The São Salvador Church and we are there. For further information we can contact: Tourism office number Monsanto (tel. 800 265 265/277 314 642). Please enjoy the video of Monsanto below!
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