Monsanto - "The Most Portuguese Village in Portugal"
Monsanto is a small village built on the top of a granite mountain. Houses are carved into the huge boulders and that is what makes it unique. It hasn't changed much in the last 70 years. My father was born in another small village close to Monsanto and the only difference between then and now is that there is a road up there and there is electricity. In the late 30's, during Salazar's dictatorship, Monsanto was labelled the "Most Portuguese Village in Portugal". The name stuck and people in Monsanto will still mention it to you if you stop and talk to them about their town. It is hard to get to Monsanto and it is best if you have a car. There are buses that will take you there from the biggest city in this region - Castelo Branco. You can stay in Monsanto overnight since there are a couple of small inns but I recommend instead that you stay in Penamacor. Parking in Monsanto is very limited and chances are you would have to leave your car far from where you would overnight. If you are driving from Lisbon to this region, it will take you approximately 3.5 hours to get here (160 miles). The months of July and August are full of festivities in Portugal, specially in the small towns. August 15th is the biggest holiday and it seems that every town and village has music, food and traditional games. Just look for the church in town and you will find something happening.