There are no words to describe this small and historic Alentejo village, which captivates us and invites us to make a late visit. We speak of Monsaraz, the one that is probably the most charming village in our country, with the simplicity of its whitewashed houses and the contrast with its streets that make Monsaraz a unique place in Portugal.
It is true that there are many other villages with their own charm, as is the case of Marvão, Ponte de Lima or Sintra. But it is also true that the charm and charm of Monsaraz are unique, making the town a place completely different from others in our country.
This graceful medieval village supports its magic of another time as a nenhum another place. Feita de cale e de xisto, in this place we seem to echo magnificent stories of daring kings, Knights Templar, brave people and ladies of singular beauty.
Suspended in time, this is one of the oldest towns in Portugal and is an obligatory destination when visiting the Alentejo region. It is not by chance that, in 2017, I won the “Aldeias Monumento” category of the 7 Wonders of Portugal – Aldeias contest.
The walls that surround this village keep a quite cozy and captivating environment. Discovering Monsaraz is traveling fast, enjoying its history that is not present. As its streets are ancestral, you will find a spacious parking lot near the muralhas, so you can visit the town as it should be: on foot and carelessly.
Do not fail to appreciate the peculiar walled fence, which embraces this vila-museum and which was erected during the Restoration Wars. This mural has preceded, not its plan, the construction of the São Bento Fort, the São João and Castelo Bastions, the São Bento Hermitage and three towers.
Likewise, the wall near Monsaraz has four large gates, which you can use to enter the village. The main one is called Porta da Vila and is protected by two towers, and on top of its Gothic arch, a tombstone consecrated to Imaculada Conceição, ordered to be placed in 1646 by D. João IV. The remaining ports, Porta d’Évora, Porta d’Alcoba and do Buraco, are also a mandatory visit place.
Don’t stop walking around the mural at the castle of Monsaraz, ordered to be built by D. Dinis in the 14th century, and which is classified as a National Monument.
The castle of Monsaraz is an exceptional and unique tourist point in Portugal, since it is one of the two most splendid viewpoints on the marvelous espelho-de-água da Barragem do Alqueva, the largest artificial lake in Europe and one of the greatest Portuguese works of our century .
Walking around Largo D. Nuno Álvares Pereira, you will be able to find Igreja Matriz de Nossa Senhora da Lagoa, which was built on the ruins of a Gothic church that has been destroyed due to the black plague that ravaged the region.
This religious monument from the 16th century is built in regional history and is authored by Pêro Gomes. It has a very beautiful front, decorated by a tile panel and by a cross of the Order of Christ. Inside, it is enchanted by the burial mound of Gomes Martins Silvestre, a Knight Templar who was the first warden and povoador of Monsaraz.
Also next to the Igreja Matriz, there is the Oitocento Pelourinho, built on the ruins of its predecessor, which was destroyed in the earthquake of 1755. And, once you find the Largo D. Nuno Álvares, appreciate the architectural and historical wealth of two buildings which is found here, as Casa Monsaraz, from the 17th century and which holds the town’s coat of arms, or Hospital do Espírito Santo and Casa da Misericórdia, as well as the Igreja da Misericórdia, religious construction from the 16th century.
In Travessa da Cadeia, you will find the old Paços da Audiência, which for centuries were the administrative headquarters and court of Monsaraz, since today the Tourist Post works here. Do not stop entering and see the medieval fresco O Bom e o Mau Juiz, a possible satire on the corruption of justice in the era.
Other places to know in Monsaraz are the Capela de São José, where the prisoners received the divine offices; to Casa da Inquisição, whose name does not leave margin for doubts; to Casa do Juiz de Fora; the recém-restored Igreja de Santiago; the old Cistern, which is said to have been a mosque originally; The capella of São João Batista. Also try to discover the Hermidas of São Bento, São Lázaro, Santa Catarina and São Sebastião.
Once you have discovered the historical wonders of Monsaraz, you are about to discover its gastronomic wonders. Choose one of two various restaurants in the village and savor the best traditional Alentejo dishes, such as migas or o borrego.
Quanto ao vinho, do not stop appreciating a good Monsaraz Reserve with your meal. And, finally, I cannot end the night without admiring the spectacle of constellations and planets, which shine more intensely in the sky of Monsaraz.