Monsanto: It’s history

Perched on a hilltop that oversees all the surrounding horizons, the village of Monsanto has a unique charm that has earned it two titles in the 20th century – the Most Portuguese Village in Portugal in 1938 and Historical Village in 1995.

Monsanto is one of the region’s main tourist attractions and offers visitors a unique experience. It was granted charters by King Afonso Henriques, King Sancho I, King Sancho II and King Manuel.

The oldest part is also the highest point, where the Knights Templar built a wall with the donjon.

It is a very old place, where the human presence is registered since the Paleolithic period. Archaeological remains account for a Lusitanian Castro and Roman occupation in the so-called S. Lourenço field at the foot of the hill. Vestiges of the Visigothic and Arab permanence were also found.

D. Afonso Henriques conquers Monsanto to the Moors and in 1165 makes his donation to the Order of the Templars, which under the orders of D. Gualdim Pais, ordered the castle to be built. The first Foral was granted by this king in 1174, successively confirmed by D. Sancho I (1190) and D. Afonso II (1217). D. Sancho I also owes the restocking and rebuilding of the fortress, dismantled in the struggles against Leon, again repaired a century later by the Templars. D. Dinis gave him Letter of Fair in 1308, to be held next to the hermitage of S. Pedro de Vir-a-Corça. El-King D. Manuel I granted him Foral Novo (1510) and gave it the status of a village. In the middle of the century. XVII, D. Luís de Haro, minister of Filipe IV, tries the siege to Monsanto, without success. Later, in the early eighteenth century, the Duke of Berwick also surrounded Monsanto, but the Portuguese army, commanded by the Marquis de Minas, defeated the invader in the foothills of the steep rise.

In 1758, Monsanto was a county seat, a privilege it held until 1853. In the 19th century, Monsanto’s imposing medieval castle was partially destroyed by the accidental explosion of the ammunition bunker.

We invite you to visit the remains of the powerful Castle on the steep hillside where you can see the fortress, the waist of walls and watchtowers, as well as the beautiful ruins of the S. Miguel Chapel. XII and the Chapel of Santa Maria do Castelo.

The glorious resistance to the invaders (Romans or Arabs – not well known) is celebrated in the Feast of Santa Cruz, throwing off the walls of the castle symbolic pitchers with flowers, taking the women to the top of the towers the traditional dolls of rags – the marafonas

The Chapel of S. Pedro de Vir-à-Corça or Ver-a-Corça, the property of Public Interest, located at the base of the hill on the outskirts of the village, between Eugénia and Carroqueiro, is a Romanesque temple built in granite, probably dating back to the 19th century. XIII, in which rosacea stands out. Around him was the fair authorized by D. Dinis in 1308.

The Roman Archaeological Station of São Lourenço, Property of Public Interest, located in the Parish of Monsanto, presumably corresponds to a Roman villa that integrates a thermal complex. Four granite Roman tombs are also known. Near the site of the ruins, there is also a section of pavement.

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