Nowadays Portugal is trending, but we’re not just Lisbon and Porto, there’s a lot of alternatives, and I’ll show you some of the most beautiful places around.
This time I’m taking you to Monsanto, the most portuguese town of Portugal (a aldeia mais portuguesa de Portugal).
Monsanto is a small town, 25km from Idanha-a-Nova, and one of the oldest; our first king D. Afonso Henriqes recognized it with a charter, in 1174. But there are records of people living there since the Paleolithic. It was also one of the houses of Knights Templar.
How to get to Monsanto? It’s far from everything, and get there is not the easiest task for a foreign. You’ve two choices, a car or hitchhiking (the portuguese aren’t very used to it, but someone has to teach). And once there you have walk up the hill, but it worth the effort.
Why going there? Is there any big monument? A very important story? The coolest bars around? Not really! But take a look to the photos and the video, and easily you’ll know why.
The houses and the mountain live in a symbiosis creating an ideal world, where home and nature are connected. The center can be full of people and good energy, and five minutes from there you look around, you find no sound, and you think the world is infinite. And there’s some caves you can go in, try to guess what it was used for, and rocks you can climb. And sometimes feel so small in front of the sublime.
Still, you have to visit the: Watch Tower, Chapel, Door of Saint Anthony, Cave, Communitarian Oven, Betrayal Door and the Pião Tower. You can find a map using the link City Itinerary. Some of this places are part of the Medieval castle, which, as all the houses, adapts to the mountain.
What to do? Well, walk, feel, see, listen, taste. If you’re staying more than just one day or a few hours you have some options:
Penha Garcia: World Heritage, with a fossil center and natural swimming pools.
Idanha-a-Velha: with an old Visigoths’ cathedral, an archeological treasure from the roman/arab period, and the first christian cathedral of Portugal and Spain.
Hiking: you can search for footpaths in the region.
Thermal park of Monfortinho.
Where to sleep? Sleep in Monsanto isn’t a cheap choice. I stayed in Idanha-a-Nova in the Youth Hostel, which I recommend (it’s not a superstar hostel, but money/price might be the best). In case you have a tent you can find a good spot in the embankment of Idanha-a-Nova.
Last thing: this is really close from the place where the Boom Festival happens every two years, so in case you go to the event, don’t forget to take a look around.