Many of the houses are built on, in, under, or between massive boulders.
Monsanto is a quiet, medieval town twelve kilometers from Idanha-a-Nova and three hours away from Lisbon, Portugal’s capital. It was dubbed ‘the most Portuguese town in Portugal’ in 1938.
However, the houses from the rest country are not like the ones in Monsanto. Here, many of the granite houses are built on, in, under, or between massive boulders.
The Order of the Knights Templar then built a castle on the summit, which survived several battles including the Napoleonic invasions.
In 1815, however, a magazine powder keg exploded and partially destroyed the castle. Tourists can still visit the castle with its many intact walls and towers to this day.
During festivals, particularly on the Festival of the Holy Cross, dancers use the plaza below the castle entrance. Women climb the hill carrying marafonas (rag dolls) and throw clay jars with flowers from the castle walls.
Monsanto’s charm has not changed much. In fact, they are not allowed to make changes in the village since it is considered a living museum.
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