MONSANTO

Monsanto Is known as the «most portuguese» of the villages, of Portugal.

The village, which is spread over the hillside, boasts one of the most interesting landscapes in Portugal. Granite boulders are used as walls for the houses, and in some cases roofs consist of a single block of stone.

 

A stroll through the village´s steep and narrow streets is enlivened by a number of emblazoned palaces, Manueline doorways, and the house where the doctor and writer Fernando Namora lived and practiced. It was in fact here that he found the inspiration for his novel "Retalhos da Vida de um Médico" (Fragments of a Doctor´s Life).

The steep climb up to the castle is rewarded by one of the most breathtaking views in the whole region. Those who feel energetic enough to make the climb up to the castle are rewarded with one of the most stunning views in the region.

 

HISTORY

The castle is from the period of Viriato, the conquerer. The romans used to call Monsanto Mons Sanctus.
It played an important role in Medieval times when Gualdim Pais, the Templates Grand Master built a castle wich withstood several battles including the Napoleonic invasions, before finally sucumbing to an explosion in 1810.



In the 12th century, D. Afonso Henriques donated the settlement (which had been captured from the Moors) to the Order of the Templars, whose Master in Portugal, Gualdim Pais, ordered the castle to be rebuilt.

The bold knights of the Christian Reconquest were buried in hollowed out rocks in this stronghold.

 

MONUMENTS

- Castle and Wall of Monsanto (Castelo e Muralha de Monsanto): (12th Century) Sumptuous mediaeval fortress, with several doors and staircases.

- Lucano’s Tower (Torre de Lucano): (14th Century) 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.

- St. Michael Chapel (Capela de São Miguel): (12th Century) Romanesque chapel.

- Mercy Church (Igreja da Misericórdia): (16th Century) With romanesque roots, it has suffered several reconstructions.

- Pin Tower (Torre do Pião): (12th Century) Ancient medieval tower.

 

FESTIVITIES

- Festivity of the Crosses or the Festivity of the Castle (Festa de Nossa Senhorado Castelo ou das Cruzes): 3rd of May (or in the following Sunday, if it’s on a weekday)

- Festivity in honour of São Sebastião: September - 1st weekend

- Festivity in honour of Nossa Senhora da Azenha: September 2nd weekend

 

 FESTIVITY OF THE CROSSES

This festivity is an ancient ceremony, held in Monsanto Castle to commemorate the end of a prolonged siege, during a tumultuous period in the Middle Ages. The people of Monsanto were trapped inside the fortress walls. As they became increasingly hungry and desperate, they devised a plan to deceive the enemies by throwing a fattened calf over the city walls, to show that they still had abundant supplies and could continue their resistance.

The trick was effective, and to celebrate this victory every year, the women of Monsanto climb the castle walls with the music of adufes (tambourines) and ancient rhyming songs, and throw clay pots decorated with flowers, symbolizing the heifer, and the freedom that they conquered.

The women carry with them marafonas (rag dolls). For some, this symbolizes women singing and dancing after the siege freedom. Others believed these had the power to quell thunderstorms.

 

MONSANTO’S URBAN CIRCUIT

1. St. Sebastian or Holy Ghost Arch - Arco de São Sebastião ou do Espírito Santo
2. Holy Ghost Chapel - Capela do Espírito Santo
3. Middle Fountain - Chafariz do Meio
4. Fernando’s Namora House - Casa de habitação Fernando Namora
5. Cross Square - Largo do Cruzeiro
6. New Fountain - Chafariz da Fonte Nova
7. Mother Church - Igreja Matriz
8. Old Cellar - Antiga Adega
9. Monsanto’s Hostel - Pousada de Monsanto
10. Pinheiro’s manor house and Fountain - Solar dos Pinheiros e Chafariz Mono
11. Tourist Office - Solar da Graciosa – Posto de Turismo
12. Socorro’s Ancient Chapel - Antiga Capela do Socorro
13. Pillory - Pelourinho
14. Fernando’s Namora consulting house - Antigo consultório de Fernando Namora
15. Mercy Church - Igreja da Misericórdia
16. Lucano’s or Watch Tower - Torre de Lucano ou do Relógio
17. St. Anthony Door - Porta de Santo António
18. St. Anthony Chapel - Capela de Santo António
19.  1628 House - Casa seiscentista
20. Patience Bench - Banco da paciência
21. Communitarian Oven - Forno comunitário
22. Cave - Gruta
23. Sentry House - Casa do Guarda
24. Keep - Torre de Menagem
25. St. Mary of the Castle Church - Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo
26. Cistern - Cisterna
27. Governor’s House - Casa dos Governadores
28. Torreão
29. Betrayal Door - Porta Falsa
30. São João Chapel - Capela de São João
31. 13 Bowls – 13 Tigelas
32. Cistern - Cisterna
33. St. Michael Chapel - Capela de São Miguel
34. Graves excavated in the rock - Sepulturas escavadas na rocha
35. Campanário
36. Pin Tower - Torre do Pião
37. São Pedro de Vir-a-Corça Chapel - Capela de São Pedro de Vir-a-Corça