Monsaraz, Portugal

Visit the small village of Monsaraz and discover one of the most beautiful and traditional areas of Portugal. 

Monsaraz, Portugal
Monsaraz
© Celestino Manuel

Monsaraz is a small village surrounded by fields that lies on a high rocky formation, with a 14th century castle offering excellent panoramic views over the Barragem do Alqueva and the valley of the Guadiana river.

The town has quiet streets and whitewashed houses with uneven walls, as many other towns in Alentejo. It retains a small amount of mostly senior neighbours.

 

Monsaraz, Alentejo
Monsaraz, Alentejo
© Celestino Manuel
Barragem de Alqueva
Barragem de Alqueva
© Celestino Manuel

Nowadays, Monsaraz has prospered thanks to tourism and has several restaurants, guest houses, and craft workshops. It is advised to visit the town to discover the most traditional Portugal and taste the excellent cuisine from Alentejo, or just to take a walk in its streets.

This town was inhabited much before the arrival of the Moors in the 8th century. The fortified square was taken by the Lusitans, Romans, Visigoths, and Moors, who called the city “Saris” and integrated it in the Taifa Kingdom of Badajoz.

Monsaraz was reconquered by the Christians under the command of Gerardo sem Pavor (Fright-less Gerardo) in 1167, to be later ceded to the Knights Templar as a gift thanking them for their help. The order of the Templars began the construction of the Castle, finished by King D. Dinis.

The town is articulated around parallel streets: the Rua Direita and the streets of São Tiago and Do Castelo. After crossing the gate of Porta da Vila, defended by two cubes, the white tower reveal the presence of three religious buildings: the Parish Church, in the D. Nuno Álvares Pereira square, along with a pelourinho, the old hospital, and the Paços da Audiência, housing the Religious Art Museum.

In the outskirts you can find the Igreja de São João Baptista Church (17th century) and the Capela de Santa Catarina chapel, Romanesque from the 13th century.

In the surrounding areas of Monsaraz, it’s worth visiting the Barragem do Alqueva, Orada Convent, the village of Mourão and its 13th century castle, the Menhir de Bulhoa, and the Cromeleque do Xerez.

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