Monsanto is a very old village of Idanha-a-Nova, Castelo Branco district.
It is located on the slope of a steep hill, 758 meters in altitude, where it dominate’s all the surrounding lands. In this village pagan gods were worshiped for thousands of years. The people felt closer to heaven (Mons Sanctus – Holy Mountain).
The houses merge overlaying each other, nestled between the huge granite boulders and narrow streets. It is one of the most striking groups of buildings and landscapes of Portugal.
HISTORY Monsanto has record of human habitation since the Paleolithic.
The castle began as a Lusitanian castle, later adapted by the Romans, it has suffered a long history of sieges and battles.
In 1165, after reconquest from the Moors, D. Afonso Henriques (1st King of Portugal) donated Monsanto to the Templar Knights, who built the present castle. It is regarded as a National Monument.
THE MOST PORTUGUESE VILLAGE The habits and customs, as well as its rich historical, cultural and natural legacies, have contributed to the award of the title of “Most Portuguese Village of Portugal” in 1938, having been awarded a silver Cock, whose replica is on the bell tower, the Clock Tower.
HISTORIC VILLAGE Monsanto is one of 12 Historical Villages of Portugal (www.aldeiashistoricasdeportugal.com) located in an area surrounding the Serra da Estrela, the highest mountain in the country. Monsanto can be a basis for the Historical Villages Trail:
– Idanha-a-Velha – 10km
– Castelo Novo – 50km
– Belmonte – 60km
– Sortelha – 60km
– Castelo Mendo – 90km
– Almeida – 105km
– Castelo Rodrigo – 125km
– Linhares – 140km
– Trancoso – 140km
– Marialva – 160km
– Piódão – 170km
Monsanto is also situated in the Geopark Naturtejo, the first Portuguese geopark Network World, recognized by UNESCO for its historical, cultural and natural characteristics.
Geopark Naturtejo, provides Nature Tourism in Central Portugal, it also includes the International Tagus Natural Park (www.icn.pt), where one can observe the diverse flora and fauna characteristics of this region.
OTHER PLACES OF INTEREST
You can also visit the following interesting places:
– Penha Garcia (castle, pools, fossils) – 10km
– Salvaterra do Extremo (birdwatching) – 45km
– Monfortinho (thermal spa, swimming pool) – 25km
– Serra Gardunha (nature) – 50km
– Serra da Estrela (Natural Park – Serra da Estrela – www.icn.pt) – 65km
– Serra da Malcata (Nature Reserve – Serra da Malcata – www.icn.pt) – 60km
– Sabugal (historic villages and castle) – 55km
– Penamacor (castle) – 25km