A glance at the three-dimensional map of the terrain is enough and everything becomes clear. Of course, I chose a tool that we all have at hand, which is Google Maps. I turned on the 3D view, turned the camera angle a little and everything became visible in the palm of your hand.
It is flat everywhere and only one solid, 758-meter high hill overlooks the entire area. In an area inhabited by man (here since the Stone Age), such a distinctive and outstanding place was usually considered sacred. The Latin Sacred Mountain is exactly Mons Sanctus… doesn't it sound like Monsanto? Yes of course! This is exactly the origin of the city's name, taken from the mountain on which Monsanto was founded.
Long story… but not the most important one?
The Monsanto paradox is that despite a very long and interesting history, after visiting the town, it will not stay in our heads. History will be relegated to the second, or even the third, plan. Few will remember the presence of Romans, Visigoths or Arabs on this earth. Few will remember the conquest of Alfonso I the Conqueror and the Templars who built the castle on the top.
Perhaps someone visiting Monsanto on May 3 will check why that day women bring rag dolls (so-called maraphons) to the top of the mountain and clay jugs filled with flowers, which they then throw from the ruined walls of the castle ... (to make it easier, I will immediately write that it is celebrated in Monsanto, the feast of the Holy Cross, commemorating the 7-year siege of the Romans, after which the Romans had to leave alone anyway).
Perhaps someone will remember that the castle was not ruined by any war but ... carelessness. Someone was just not careful enough in the castle's ammunition depot, and there was an accidental explosion that blew the lock from the inside. Some time later, the work was completed by a rocky cliff, which collapsed along with fragments of buildings, and today we can admire a picturesque ruin here.
All these things, however, will be obscured by something else.
What everyone remembers after visiting Monsanto is its unique and unique buildings.
The slope of the hill (especially in its upper part) is dotted with gigantic granite oval rocks that look like monstrous pebbles. A small town arose among these rocks. You can often hear the opinion that the rocks perfectly fit into the architecture of the town, but in my opinion it is exactly the opposite. This town and its houses are part of what nature has created here. The houses hugged the huge boulders, forming a single body with them. Sometimes the boulder is one of the walls of the house. Sometimes a narrow gap between adjacent boulders, filled with cleverly fitted doors, acts as an entrance to the apartment.
There will also be a place where the free space between a few rocks has only been covered and turned into an apartment.
However, the greatest emotions are aroused by the buildings, where a monstrously heavy and huge boulder is used as ... a roof !!! Looking at this house, I immediately asked myself ... would I even fall asleep under a rock like this? Or would I have been wondering all night when he would finally hit me?
Where is Monsanto?
Monsanto is far from everything. 176 km from Porto, 258 km from Lisbon and 366 km from Madrid. So you need to spend some time and kilometers to visit the town, but it is worth doing.
The location of Monsanto on the map of Portugal is shown on the map below.
While visiting Monsanto, it is rather difficult to get lost, but a glance at the illustrative map will be useful. I have prepared one and you will find it below.
The central part of Monsanto has several streets and it is worth wandering around them a bit.
Most of the visitors to Monsanto start their tour from the parking lot (when we were paid), which is located in the lower part of the town (I marked it on the map). The parking lot is not huge and can only accommodate a dozen cars, but when we were here in the summer there were no problems with parking.
Parking in Monsanto, GPS coordinates:
40.039924, -7.114158 - click and route
Simply put: go uphill while exploring. First you will pass through the old, residential part of the town, then the road will take you beyond the main part, up to the top, to the ruins of the castle.
Important attractions in Monsanto marked with numbers on the map are:
1. San Salvador Cross
2. Church of San Salvador
3. The Old Wine Cellar
4. tourist information
5. Pillory and Chapel of Mercy
6. The clock tower and the Church of Mercy
8. Guardian's House
9. Church of Santa Maria do Castelo
10 Governor's House
11 Sao Joao Chapel
12 Rock tombs and the Sao Miguel chapel (it was the center of the village in the XNUMXth century)
On the way, you will pass some interesting viewpoints. It's worth taking a look everywhere, because sometimes the views can be surprising.
At the top, the tour ends and you have to go back down. It is possible to go back by a different path leading among the oval rock boulders, as in the photo below, or from number 12 the same path that we entered.
Clicking on the photo below will take you to the panoramic photo on Google Maps.
Accommodation in Monsanto
In Monsanto you can find really beautiful and atmospheric accommodation. I highly recommend looking for something for yourself. Peace and quiet and the beauty of the place will surely leave you with beautiful memories.
I present some interesting accommodations below. Clicking on any of them will take you to the page where you will see more photos and details of the selected accommodation, but also other suggestions similar to these.
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