Perched on a hilltop, the village of Monsanto, Portugal has a unique charm as it has been built around huge boulders. It is a fun place to explore to find the strangest structures under or around those rocks. Plus, the views of the region are stunning! Below is my guide to help you plan your visit.
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Why visit the village of Monsanto in Portugal? - Video
Monsanto is one of the most amazing and fun villages to visit in Portugal.
The hilltop is covered with boulders and houses have been built around them, using them as walls or roofs. This creates architectural wonders.
It deserve a long visit to take the time to explore all the streets and discover the many structures. This one is the most famous:
Below is a short video of my visit around the Monsanto Portugal Village: the drive, the views, the houses... So much fun!
Do you understand why it is one of the top attractions in Portugal?
Many more photos and details after the tips.
Planning tips - Monsanto Portugal village
How to get to Monsanto
- To the East of Portugal, near the Border with Spain, roughly at the same latitude as Coimbra
- It is quite a detour from most touristic roads
- North East of Castelo Branco
- Lisbon to Monsanto = 3h drive via motorways - or train Lisbon to Castelo Branco followed by bus
- Coimbra to Monsanto = 2h15
This location with its GPS coordinates and planning info is included in the eBook to help you easily plan your Portugal road trip:
Be overwhelmed by the beauty, not the planning!
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- 13 easy-to-plan Maps
- 120+ pre-selected scenic locations
- Planning tips to make the most of your time
- 200+ large photos to decide where to go
- GPS coordinates direct to the carparks
Parking and access to Monsanto
Parking issue: There is very little place to park at the entrance of the village (I think something like 30 places) and then you can park a bit along the road going up. In summer it fills up very quickly. In that case you have to park at the bottom of the hill and walk or take the bus to the village.
Visiting Monsanto Portugal
- Plan half a day to visit - there are good signs indicating the main features
- You can find a Monsanto Map on Portugal Virtual
- Wear good shoes, the streets are rough and sometimes steep
- The climb to the castle is quite steep
- There are many cafés and restaurants in the village. The service we experienced was not the best, but OMG those Toastas were delicious!!!!! We had lunch at Fornum Du Viriato
Accommodation in Monsanto Portugal
It is possible to stay in the village overnight and enjoy amazing views both at sunset and sunrise!!! I wish I had planned a night here. I really enjoyed the village.
Monsanto village from the distance
The Monsanto Portugal Village is part of the Idaha-a-nova Municipality. You can see it from far away with the hill and its giant boulders. (Don't worry the track in the photo is not the road to the village...)
Most Portuguese village in Portugal
Because of its uniqueness, the village has been named the 'Most Portuguese village in Portugal" in 1938 (which is funny because it does not look like anywhere else in Portugal, so not very 'typical').
It has also be named one of the 12 "Historical Villages" in 1995.
View from the Bastion Mirador
As you arrive in the village, there is a large viewpoint called Bastion Square or Baluarto. It is a polygonal structure designed to defend the angles of the fortifications with artillery.
On your left you see the bottom part of the Monsanto:
And around you discover the stunning valley:
Tower of Lucano
If you keep climbing one of the main roads, you will reach the Tower of Lucano, the most prominent feature.
Many thought that is was a reused military structure but there is nothing in the architecture to confirm that. It is now thought that it is a bell tower possibly constructed in the 18th century.
At the top is a replica of the Silver Rooster trophy awarded in 1938 by Estado Novo to the "Most Portuguese village in Portugal"
The views from the bottom of the tower are also beautiful:
Miradouro do Forno and the most famous boulder house
Then you can climb a bit higher to find the most famous houses in the village of Monsanto. This is the one you see the most photographed and the one representing the village.
Look at that! Easy to understand why:
The viewpoint is a nice place to have a break
Other structures in the Boulder village
The Monsanto village in Portugal is a great place to have fun exploring. You want to take every alley and look at every turn. And you find some crazy things. Below is a selection:
Pé Calvo Boulder and the Monsanto castle
Above the right side of the village (when going up) is one of the paths to the castle. It first lead to Pé Calvo, a gigantic fissured boulder. It is one of the few boulders which have been named a long time ago by people living in this settlement.
With Monsanto's many boulders, you get to see a lot of shapes and formations created by erosion in the long process of granite weathering.
You can continue hiking between the boulders all the way to the oldest part of the settlement: the fortified wall and dungeon, called the castle.
Farming area and Pigpens
Originally the pigpens were spread out in the village. Later they were regrouped in one location for public health reasons. Pigs were an important source of food over the long term.
Today you can still see some pigs inside
Monsanto hike above the Village
To hike above and up to the castle you can also go right from the center (when looking up). The path winds out of the village and past the Joined boulders. 2 boulders which seem to be leaning on each other.
And once again you get fantastic views from there:
Monsanto Village was my top 1 on my list of the 5 best villages to visit in Portugal
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