Perched high over the surrounding countryside, tiny Monsaraz is a charming village with a looming castle at its edge, great views over the Alqueva Dam and olive groves sprinkling the landscape. Its narrow streets are lined with uneven-walled, whitewashed cottages. Today, the village prospers on tourism, with a handful of restaurants, guesthouses and artisan shops. It’s worth coming to taste a slice of traditional Portugal, wander the slumbering streets and sample Alentejan cuisine. It’s at its best as it wakes up in the morning, in the quiet of the evening or during a wintry dusk.
Settled long before the Moors arrived in the 8th century, Monsaraz was recaptured by the Christians under Giraldo Sem Pavor (Gerald the Fearless) in 1167, and then given to the Knights Templar as thanks for their help. The castle was added in 1310.