Monsaraz, Portugal is one of the most beautiful villages in the country. Located in the Alentejo region, at the border with Spain, its white houses and the Monsaraz Castle are nestled on top a hill with magnificent views of the surroundings. This is my guide to help you plan your visit.
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Why visit the white village of Monsaraz in Portugal ? Video
Located on a hilltop, this is one of the most charming villages in Portugal with:
- white houses,
- the Monsaraz castle and its keepwith reddish roofs,
- and magnificent views over the Great Alqueva Lake
Below is a short video that will give you an idea of what it is like to visit Monsaraz.
One of the best places to visit in Portugal!
Many photos after the planning tips.
PLANNING TIPS - Monsaraz Portugal
How to get to Monsaraz Portugal
- East of Portugal
- Located in the Alentejo Region, East of Evora, near the border with Spain.
- Lisbon to Monsaraz - 2h15 drive
- Evora to Monsaraz - 50min drive
This location with its GPS coordinates and planning info is included in my eBook to help you easily plan your Portugal road trip:
Be overwhelmed by the beauty, not the planning!
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- 120+ pre-selected scenic locations
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Visiting Monsaraz in the Alentejo
- Plan 1 to 2 hours to tour the village and fort
- 2 public toilets
- Several restaurants
- Easy walking, some steps to climb the walls of the Monsaraz Castle
- Not far you can see traces of Prehistoric settlements such as the Menhir of Outeiro or the Megalithic monument of the Cromlech of Xerez
If you want to step back in time, there are 5 accommodations in the heart of Monsaraz. The colors at sunset and sunrise must be amazing. I wish I had spent the night here rather than in Evora... For example, in:
Or you can stay outside the village and enjoy the whole region for cheaper. For example, in:
Driving in the Alentejo to the village
Monsaraz is quite out of the way, in an area close to the border with Spain. There are other sights to enjoy right in the vicinity, but between Evora and the village of Monsaraz Portugal, you will enjoy miles and miles of farming land and trees.
As you approach the area of the Great lake (artificial lake), you can spot Monsaraz on top of a hill with its castle at one end.
Carpark, Entrance and Map
You have to park before entering the fortifications.
There is a large carpark on the hill on the way to the fortifications.
You will enter via the gate 'Porta da Vila'.
But before that, enjoy the magnificent views of the Alentejo region and the Great lake. The intense blue has a good contrast against the dry land.
Then you can explore the village. Don't worry you won't get lost; it is not big!
And you can stop at the visitor center close to the gate to get a map of Monsaraz. With it you can learn a few Monsaraz facts:
- Due to its strategic location, Monsaraz has been occupied since the prehistoric times
- It has a rich history and was fought over many times
- Some of its fortifications are straight and tall from the 12th to 14th centuries while others are Vauban style defenses from the 17th century
A village with typical white houses
Like many other Portuguese villages, Monsaraz has white houses and cobbled streets. However, there is definitively a very different atmosphere in that village. I can't tell you exactly what it is, maybe the shapes or the fact that it was a rich area, but it does not feel the same as visiting Obidos or Marvao. I was pleasantly surprised.
Of course, it is very touristy with souvenir shops and restaurants in those white houses, but when I visited it was not too crowded.
I love trees growing on walls! How about you?
Monsaraz Castle (Castelo de Monsaraz)
The other highlight of visiting the village of Monsaraz Portugal, it the fort at one end. The Monsaraz Castle is tiny, but once again, it looks quite different from the castles of the other villages such as Marvao or Obidos.
It looks more like an arena with some towers around it.
You can enter it at the ground level or climb to the walls and towers.
There is a tall keep in the center of the castle. Thanks to the village's strategic position, it was easy to detect the presence of the enemy well in advance. Especially as watchtowers had been built around the area and could communicate with this main tower.
As you will see in the next paragraph, it is worth making the effort to climb on the tower to admire the views of both the village and the region.
Views over the Great Alqueva lake and the village
And here are the magnificent views from the walls of the Monsaraz Castle. I could have stayed hours just observing. When I visited, some artists had set up there and were doing great work!
This is the view over the Great Alqueva lake, which is the largest artificial lake in Europe. It covers 250km2 and has 1100km of shoreline!!!!.
Thanks to its reservoir, it can supply 200,000 people with water. If you want a break from your road trip, you can enjoy water activities there.
See, it is so big, that there is even a bridge to cross it!
From the other side of the castle walls, you can enjoy beautiful views of the Monsaraz village and its white houses.
In the center of the village is the church: Igreja Matriz Nossa Senhora da Lagoa. Not so easy to say!!!
There was an early Gothic building from the 13th century. The current church is of Renaissance style from the 16th century.
It can be visited from 9:30am to 1pm and 2pm to 5:30pm
Want to see more of PORTUGAL?
Stunning views, don't you think?
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