Monsaraz is the famous town that Madonna called beautiful. It is a full town compacted inside the walls of a castle that looks like a ship on the top of a hill looking down on Alqueva. Yes, this place is full of surprises.
Alqueva is one of the biggest artificial water reservoir in Europe.
This magical place is located in Alentejo near a city called Reguengos de Monsaraz, in the mid-south of portugal near the Spanish border near Évora (if you have not seen my post about Évora here it is: https://blankssd.com/2018/01/03/evora-top-5-experiences/ )
Honestly there isn´t any official dish in Monsaraz but I can talk about one drink, that for me, is related to this place.
Licor de Poejo or poejo liqueur is a drink made in all of Portugal but every time that I go to Monsaraz with my family they always buy it to take home. It is one of those things that I know it is vintage and hand-made in this shops so it becomes kind of unique.
In the photo above you can see a glance of the shops that can be found inside the castle walls. A lot of them offer wines, honeys and jams, several liqueur and traditional crockery made of clay.
Taverna dos Templários or Templar Tavern is a great place to have lunch or dinner. It is a regional restaurant where you can find a lot of Portuguese gastronomy. The food is really delicious and you can choose from a very big variety of dishes.
The restaurant in itself is stunning because it is surrounded by this amazing shale town and the amazing view of the Alqueva lake.
Because Monsaraz is a tourist destination, prices aren´t the most accessible.
Monsaraz is most known for the medieval vibe to it. It is fantastic to find a so well preserved population that still lives in this town where everything is medieval. The streets and the are all made of shale. Tourism is something that makes this place survive because you can find a lot of tourism related shops and coffee shops/ Restaurants.
In the middle of the town there is a ancient bullring with tower that you can climb and see the view from. The bullring it is still used in modern times where bull show happens almost every month.
History mysteries like secret tunnels and the legendary cistern you can still see today are some of the amazing discoveries that you can make at monsaraz. No wonder in a town that is pre-historical, whit several hundred archaeological sites from the Paleolithic, Neolithic (Megalithic), Chalcolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age periods all around it.
Xadrez is my go to coffee shop in Monsaraz. It was beautiful aesthetics and a great service.
Portuguese people have kind of unsaid tradition of going out for a coffee after lunch and i remember that this place was the fancy one for my parents. On Christmas it became almost like a rule to go drink a coffee in this place.
You should really try it out.
5.Splash of Culture
Monsaraz has a rich story and a part of that is the legend of the mysterious tunnels.
I lived in Reguengos de Monsaraz for 10 years and I remember hearing this legend a lot of times. The legend tells that in some hidden place in Monsaraz there is a secret tunnel that goes to Reguengos de Monsaraz which is 17 kilometers.
It is said that it is impossible to go through it because it is haunted and the people that found it where afraid to actually go through it because of human skulls marking the way.
I honestly have no clue if it exists but i believe in it because Reguengos de Monsaraz were a safe heaven for the royals in Monsaraz (Reguengos means land of the king) so it is only natural to put a secret tunnel for the royal family to leave Monsaraz safely.