Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Monsaraz, Portugal

On our recent trip to Portugal and Spain, we wanted a stop en route back from Sevilla to Lisbon and stumbled across Monsaraz and we are so glad we did. I remember driving to the hillside village through an ancient archway over the cobbled streets to arrive at the AirBnB and being blown away by this beautiful and ancient abode with views over the countryside below. 

The Village of Monsaraz formerly known as Saris or Sarish, was taken from the Muslims by Geraldo Sem Pavor (Fearless Geraldo), in 1167. It was taken back by the Moors then in 1232, King Sancho II recovered it with the help of the Templars. 

The Templar knights were founded in the 12th century during the time of the Crusades, apparently, they became wealthy and not popular with all European rulers of the time. Falsely accused of blasphemy and blamed for Crusader failures in the Holy Land, the order was destroyed by King Philip IV of France- Source -

It was renamed Order of the Christ in 1319 by King Dinis of Portugal he welcomed them. He gave the castle and Village to the Knights. The area has been lived in since prehistoric times. It welcomes thousands of tourists each year, there are a few restaurants in the village, gift shops, and of course the Castle with amazing views of Lake Alqueva in the distance and farmland. You can see olive groves, vineyards, and farms with crops and sheep. There are also walking trails from the village and around the area below with trail markings, the tourist information center has a map. 

Apparently, these old pots were both used to collect rainwater and also to store food. 

The village has a big population of swallows with nests and you can notice them at dawn and dusk particularly. 

It was a beautiful area to walk especially in the spring with abundant wildflowers. 

The first night we ate at Taverna Os Templarios, we enjoyed local lamb in fact we were there the week of Easter and lots of folks were visiting from Spain to eat lamb. 
The second night we ate at Casa Modesto and ate this interesting dish with tuna, potato, and egg it looks like rice but very tasty. 

If you are there at a busy time it may be wise to make reservations, it can get very busy. 

This is the view from the garden at the AirBnB and here is the link

I can't recommend this place enough it was magical.

There are a lot of Cats in the village, maybe too many, but it has a small local population of mainly older folks who struggle to take care of them. 

From the castle ruins you get a wonderful view of the lake and surrounding areas and understand why it was such an important place for the military for the protection of the region. 

The lake was built in 2002 as the Alentejo region was suffering from drought and a lack of water for people and crops. I was chatting to the girl in the tourist center who mentioned how vital it was for people last year they only had 5 days of rain! It is in fact the biggest artificial lake in Europe there is a beach and boat tours. This summer a floating solar farm is planned to supply electricity to 1500 homes. 

Be sure to add this magical old village to your Portugal itinerary its a gem of a place, maybe Spring or fall is the best weather wise I suspect summers are very hot. 

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1 comment:

  1. Rebecca, Portugal is a beautiful country. Yo can never get enough of it! Spain too!

    Thanks for sharing your journey with us.




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