Monsanto Castle (Monsanto Castelo), is an impressive fortress strategically located on the top of the mountain overlooking the hillside village of Monsanto. We have visited Monsanto before, it is renowned for being one of the most Portuguese villages in Portugal and is also one of Portugal’s twelve historical villages. A beautiful and picturesque village with the additional quirk of integrating huge granite boulders into it’s architecture.
The castle itself is also formed around the immovable granite masses. Initially the Muslims built a very early castle on the hillside but a larger structure was built by the Templars, somewhat ironically, as part of Portugal’s Tagus Line of defence against Muslim attacks. The castle was modified and further built upon during reformist Gothic campaigns, preserved during the Portuguese Restoration War and renovated in the 1940’s.
The walk up the hillside to explore the castle is rather steep, but within 10 minutes of leaving Monsanto you can enter the fortification. With carefully placed steps you can walk around the castle walls and enjoy the panoramic views of the surrounding countryside; don’t look down if you are afraid of heights! We picnicked near the old chapel within the castle walls and read the boys a book about Knights and Dragons, a perfect location to fuel their imagination. We left the castle and took the less travelled scenic path back to the village, squeezing through boulders and sliding down a narrow trail we eventually made it back to the relative safety of the higgledy-piggledy village of Monsanto.
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