Monsanto is possibly one of the most adorable and unique towns you'll ever see, and of all the Portuguese towns I've visited, I think this is my favourite (nearby Piódão is up there too).
You may have heard whispers of a ‘crazy rock village in Portugal' and this is likely what they refer to, as Monsanto is built around granite boulders on a mountain slightly west of the Spanish border. As you walk up the steep, cobbled streets you’ll see doors peeping out from beneath giant rocks, and pass elderly locals going about their business as though living in a rock house in the middle of nowhere is completely normal.
A pathway through the town eventually leads up to the Castle of Monsanto, where you can enjoy amazing views across the countryside below. From this dizzyingly high vantage point you can see why Monsanto successfully withstood attacks from the Romans for almost a decade in the 2nd century BC.
In 1938 Monsanto was named ‘the most Portuguese village’ and its trophy was the silver cock perched on top of the Torre de Lucano (Lucan’s Tower), as seen in the photos below. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t say Monsanto is an accurate reflection of your average Portuguese town as this distinctive architecture is really in a league of its own.