Monsanto Castle | Portugal Visitor
Monsanto Castle (Castelo de Monsanto)
Monsanto Castle (Castelo de Monsanto) in the tiny, picturesque village of Monsanto in the Beira Baixa region now lies in ruins.
Monsanto was voted the nation’s “most Portuguese” village during the Salazar era and is best reached by hire car rather than infrequent bus.
Gualdim Pais, the founder of Tomar and the Convento de Cristo, built the castle after Monsanto was taken back from the Moors in the 12th century.
Its impressive walls are made from the local granite as is the town which grew around it. King Afonso Henriques gave a vast area of territory to Pais and the Templars to administer and protect at this time in Portuguese history. The castles at Monsanto and Idanha-a-Velha were both built in 1171, along with Pombal Castle in Pombal to guard the capital of the kingdom which was at Coimbra at the time.
Originally the castle had five towers but only one is still standing, the Torre do Pião.
The castle’s defences were improved in the following centuries with the addition of artillery and the strengthening of the walls and gates. However, this was done at the expense of the original Templar structure, much of which was demolished.
Finally, the fortress was left in ruins after an explosion of ammunition in the 19th century.
The Capela de Santa Maria do Castelo is a small, square church within the castle walls. Two other churches here are the ruined Chapel of São João which has no roof and the Church of São Miguel.
Getting to Monsanto
Train Travel in Portugal
Castelo Branco’s train station is the nearest main station to Monsanto. It is located 500 meters from the centre of the town and has links to Covilhã (1 hour; 1 hour 20 minutes) and Lisbon (around 3 hours) via Entroncamento (requiring a change here with local trains) or direct to Gare do Oriente in 2 hours, 50 minutes.
An infrequent bus connects Castelo Branco with Monsanto. Check at the tourist office in either town for the latest timetable.
Car Travel in Portugal
The N23 highway heads to Castelo Branco off the A23/E1 highway to Lisbon. The N239 runs east to west past Monsanto.
Bus Travel in Portugal
Castelo Branco has bus connections to Covilhã (1 hour), Guarda (1 hour, 40-45 minutes), Lisbon with ten departures daily (3 hours, 45 minutes), Coimbra (2-3 hours), Monsanto (1 hour, 30 minutes), Penamacor (1 hour, 20 minutes), and Viseu (2 hours, 40 minutes).
Connections to Salamanca in Spain with onward connections to Madrid leave from Guarda.
Monsanto has a number of centrally located places to stay including the recommended 3-star Monsanto GeoHotel Escola, the Casa do Chafariz, the Quinta da Pedra Grande, a farm stay, and the Casa Do Castelo.
See here for a full listing of hotel accommodation in Monsanto.
Monsanto GeoHotel Escola, Rua da Capela, nº 1, Monsanto, Portugal.
Book Hotel Accommodation in Monsanto & Idanha-a-Velha