Astonishing Ancient Fortified Village With Homes Built Into The Rocks  

Old Portuguese proverb says that "He who owns Monsanto, owns the world"

      Monsanto (Mons Sanctus – Holy Mountain) had records habitation since the paleolithic.The castle began as Lusitanian,later adapted by the Romans,it had suffer a long history of sieges and battles.

        It might take some courage to live here and have giant, miraculously balanced granite boulders above the roof of the house.
       However, residents of the beautiful ancient village Monsanto certainly don’t fear nature or time.
Monsanto is a village made of stone. The whole place is truly astonishing. Here, most of the homes are built into the rocks!
      The remote village of Monsanto is located southeast of Serra da Estrela, the highest mountain range in mainland Portugal.

     This is a very ancient place with evidence of human presence since the Paleolithic Era. Archaeologists have found evidence of a Lusitanian fortress and of Roman occupation in St. Laurence’s field, at the foot of the hill, as well as of Visigoth and Arabian occupation.
     King Afonso Henriques conquered Monsanto from the Moors and, in 1165, granted it to the Templar monks who had the Castle built under the orders of Gualdim Pais.

      King Afonso Henriques first chartered the village in 1174 and then King Sancho I (1190) and King Afonso III (1217) confirmed the Charter.

     King Sancho I rebuilt and repopulated the fortress, which had been destroyed during the fights against the king of Leão.

     In 1308, King Dinis granted it a Charter, which allowed a fair to take place near the Chapel of São Pedro de Vir-a-Corça. King Manuel I granted it a New Charter in 1510, giving it the right to be a Town.

    In the middle of the 17th century, Luis de Haro, Minister for Filipe IV, tried to siege Monsanto, but his attempts were unsuccessful.

    Later, in the beginning of the 18th century, the Duke of Berwick also laid siege to Monsanto but the Portuguese Army, commanded by the Marquis of Minas, defeated the invader on the slopes of the hill. In 1758, Monsanto was a municipality, having kept this privilege until 1853.

     In the 19th Century, the imposing Castle of Monsanto was partly destroyed by the accidental explosion.

     In 1938, Monsanto was bestowed the “most Portuguese Village of Portugal”. This might seem a little odd, because most villages in Portugal don’t have houses squeezed between gigantic boulders.

     The ancient population carved dozens of narrow streets and passageways right through the center of the boulders. The passages lead the residents upwards and downwards over the rocks and through the village.

     One can easily say that this unique village is frozen in time. Its appearance hasn’t changed in centuries.


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