A hilltop treat.
Monsaraz looks down upon the River Guadiana, and we are so close to Spain that you can almost smell the sherry wafting across the border.
The medieval walled town of Monsaraz is incredibly charming, how could you resist the allure of wandering amongst the perfectly kept white-washed homes and along the historic cobbled lanes.
Go with the flow
I was sceptical that it may be rather touristy, and it really wasn’t. It felt like family life was still at the heart of the town, ladies and gents chatting on street corners and locals tending to their everyday business.
We were there on May Day, and it was relaxing just strolling along a quiet lane admiring the scenery and architecture, and so often no-one else was around.
The views were incredible from the town, Alentejo countryside as far as the eye could see. It’s easy to understand why this prominent piece of land was fought over so many times for centuries.
Passing between different hands including the Moors, the Spanish and even the Knights Templar got their hands on it.
A reference guide
Our recent new found love is Portugal, it is such a beautiful country. While planning our trip, I used the DK Eyewitness books. I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.
We used a previous version of this book to plan our north to south Portuguese road trip, now you can grab the revised copy.
To the castle
Monsaraz is a reasonably small town as you can imagine being on a hill, perched on one end is the 13th-century castle, built by Afonso III and Dinis.
The main visible part of the castle is the keep, however, at its feet is a garrison, which on the inside courtyard almost looks like an amphitheatre. I have since found out that this small arena is still used for an occasional bullfight.
Around the corners
Heading back along more lovely little lanes and squares we come across Church of Nossa Senhora da Lagoa and the white marble Pillory of Monsaraz, everything blends in so well.
Keep strolling around, and you’ll find more quiet spots. I must say it was a real treat visiting Monsaraz, it’s a town I highly recommend and certainly one I thought would have been busier.