Idanha-a-Nova is a municipality in the Beira Baixa, a region of Central Portugal. It includes Monsanto, an ancient fortified village perched on the side of the mountain. The tiny streets are carved from and in the rocks. The houses are squeezed between gigantic boulders. This historical village is often mentioned as the most Portuguese village in the country.
Monsanto's (/mõ.ˈsɐ̃.tu/, mohn-SUHN-too) appearance has not changed in centuries. In 2011, it was home to about 800 people.
At the top of the 122 m (400 ft)-high hill, stands a very old square built fortress or castle, that played an important role in Medieval times; it's said to have been built by the Templars Grand Master and withstood several battles, including the Napoleonic invasions. The walk up to the castle is rewarded by gorgeous views in the whole region.
The easiest way to reach Monsanto is by car and please consider that Portugal is one of Europe's cheapest countries for renting a car. Buy and use a normal road map over Portugal. You will find Monsanto - NE of Castelo Branco.
Free parking in the beginning of the mediaeval village.
If you will not or can not drive a car it is possible to arrive to Monsanto by public transportation: trains and buses, but first you have to get to Castelo Branco. Fly to Lisbon Airport and then take the train/bus to Castelo Branco.
From Lisbon, take the train to Castelo Branco. The latest time table shows trains operating between 08:00 and 19:30 and will take approximately 3 hours from Lisbon.
Intercity Trains operate from Lisbon (Gare do Oriente) to Castelo Branco. From Porto, the train journey takes approximately 5 hours.
From Lisbon, take the Metro from the airport to Seite Rios. Express bus at 09:50 (all working days and Saturdays - if not a holiday) from "Terminal Rodoviario de Seite Rios" in Seite Rios (near the Lisbon Zoo) to Castelo Branco. Change to the bus to Monsanto at 12:25.
Express bus at 14:00 (all working days but Friday if it is a holiday) Change in Castelo Branco to the bus to Monsanto at 17:15.
From Porto, the bus journey takes approximately 4 hr 30 min.
- 1 Castle and Wall of Monsanto (Castelo e Muralha de Monsanto). Sumptuous mediaeval fortress, with several doors and staircases. 12th century.
- 2 Lucano’s Tower (Torre de Lucano). Bell ringer tower, crowned with a silver cockerel, a trophy awarded to Monsanto, in a 1938 competition, which it was judged to be “the most Portuguese village” in Portugal, in recognition of the originality of its culture. 14th century.
- 3 St. Michael Chapel (Capela de São Miguel). 12th-century Romanesque chapel.
- 4 Mercy Church (Igreja da Misericórdia). With romanesque roots, it has suffered several reconstructions. 16th century.
- 5 Pin Tower (Torre do Pião). 12th-century ancient medieval tower.
- Other interesting villages in the area: Idanha-a-Velha and Penha Garcia, distance about 10 km and 15 km from Monsanto.
- 1 Petiscos e Granitos, Rua do Castelo 16, ☏ . A new concept of restaurant, a pedagogical strategy promoting the Portuguese geological heritage. This is Petiscos & Granitos, the first geological restaurant. Traditionally built using granite boulders with thousands of tons as walls and roof, this unique place celebrates the “Cookery of Earth”. A dynamical Geo-menu follows the gastronomy calendar of Idanha and appeal to a strong relationship between traditional tastes and geographic diversity of Portugal. Different appeals, different know-hows. Visiting the two dining rooms and the esplanade is discovering the exhibition “The Rolling Stones show Geohistory of Portugal told by rocks” and feel the action of Time and the dynamics of Earth. Mid-range.
Same places as mentioned above
- 1 Taverna Lusitana, Rua do Castelo 19, Monsanto. Check-in: from 13:00, check-out: before 11:00. An accommodation with two double rooms with private bathroom, TV & free Wireless Internet. Breakfast is included in the rental price. Relax and enjoy your lunch or dinner at the terrace with a view. Lunch packet on request for your excursions in the area with a lot of historical Sites. Single room with private bath €40, double room with private bath €50.
- 2 Hotel Estalagem de Monsanto, Rua de Capela 3, Monsanto. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 11:00. Hotel Estalagem de Monsanto has 10 rooms with private bathroom. The hotel has a balance between traditional style and modern comfort. Hotel Estalagem de Monsanto features a lobby, a bar and a restaurant which seats 40 people. The restaurant offers you good regional food. Single room with private bathroom €60, double room with private bathroom €70, extra bed €25.