Idanha-a-nova and Monsanto: the museum villages

Discovering the Museum Villages of the county of Idanha-a-Nova are challenges that allow visitors to experience absolutely peculiar and not to be missed. From heritage to architecture, to nature, the richness of the territory is the best and most captivating collection of these “open-air museums”.

True outdoor museums that seem like a must stop for all who make the museological route of the region. The rich archaeological and architectural heritage conquers the visitor and is a guarantee of a visit that leaves no one indifferent. There is obviously talk of the Idanha-a-Velha and Monsanto Historical Villages in the municipality of Idanha-a-Nova, which, without being confined to an enclosed space, are still museum spaces.

Considered a target of considerable investments, these locations are perhaps one of the most significant elements of the museum network project that the Idanha-a-Nova City Council has been developing over the years and, as Paulo Longo explains, goes far beyond the simple creation of a museum or the specific use of a single point of interest. “The objective of the program is always to explain the territory and to value not only the built heritage but also the intangible heritage. None of the spaces is conceived without taking into account the ideographic registration and the elements gathered together and with the population’s involvement, “says the cultural leader.

The philosophy of the project fell like a glove in Monsanto and Idanha-a-Velha, where the intervention was made to scale the entire village.

There, at every step, there is a story to discover or a monument to meet.

Known as the “most Portuguese village in Portugal”, Monsanto is a tourist icon that attracts thousands of visitors. Of the built heritage, stands the castle, constructed by the Templars, the Cistern, the Chapels of Santa Maria and S. Miguel and the vestiges of all the primitive village around. Overlooking the clump, now in ruins, rises the Tower of the Top. The use of granite in the buildings gives the whole a great uniformity between the natural and the built. This balance is even more evident when granitic accidents give rise to curious uses of caves and boulders integrally converted into construction parts. A world where you will also discover the Mother Church, the oven of the village, the Chapels of the Holy Spirit and Santo António and the Torre Sineira or Lucano topped by the silver cock, the image of the Portuguese of another time. At the top of the village, the castle, from where you can see the next stop … Idanha-a-Velha.

Here, from the Cathedral (built between the fourth and fifth century, and the target of many interventions since then), the Roman Wall (built between the second and the fourth century AD), the Pelourinho, passing by the Tower of the Templars the XIIth century) and the Casa de Marrocos all show the grandeur of Idanha from the past and also of today’s idanhenses, who, with careful and wealthy interventions, managed to achieve a perfect symbiosis between the past and the present. And, those who want to be enchanted by this “Open-air Museum”, will also have the opportunity to pass in the Lagar das Varas (considered exceptional by Benjamim Pereira for the care taken of the construction) and in its backyard and to be, once more surprised, by the modern epigraphic pavilion. Built-in glass and iron, this pebble-like structure houses a part of the local epigraphic collection, one of the largest and most representative collections of epigraphs in the country.

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