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Monsaraz Guide

A white village with a magical medieval atmosphere



Monsaraz, Portugal


Monsaraz is a tiny fairytale walled village that maintains a delightful medieval atmosphere. It was originally fortified by the Knights Templar, and today its 150 or so permanent residents live in ancient white houses with outdoor staircases and wrought-iron balconies.

The main street, Rua Direita, lined with 16th- and 17th-century whitewashed houses, leads to the main square, where the parish church stands along with an unusual 18th-century pillory topped by a sphere of the universe. The church interior contains gilded altars and painted pillars.

It is worth climbing the granite castle's battlements for eagle's-eye views of the houses clustered within the village walls and for the magical landscape of the surrounding countryside. Within the castle is an unusual arena where bullfights are held several times a year.

In the region are Iron Age dolmens and menhirs, which were the sites of fertility rites. The Menhir of Outeiro, 3km (2 miles) north of Monsaraz, is one of the tallest ever discovered (5.6m/18ft).

Monsaraz is best reached by car, but there's daily bus service from Evora to nearby Reguengos de Monsaraz, from where there's connection to Monsaraz.

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