We have just returned from two days of wonderful exploration in the Alentejo Region, the region of Portugal directly above the Algarve. With the open roaming plains, you are continually viewing large pastures full of grazing sheep, goats, and cows. The area is renown for its wines and its cheeses.
We headed off, seven of us, early Friday morning, our destination Monsaraz. In 2017, it won the category “Monument Villages” in the competition “7 Maravilhas de Portugal – Aldeias” (7 wonders of Portugal – Villages). Having now been there, I completely understand why.
We stopped in Almodovar for a cafe and took a walk about to stretch our legs and let our bodies relax following the hour long winding mountain road trip. This beautiful aloe plant was majestic.
I love how the chimneys seem to carry individual stamps of the owners. It would be so easy to simply put one up, paint it white and leave it.
Our little group enjoying the sunshine and a coffee.
This beautiful old building graced the esplanade beside our cafe.
So many older people sitting in the sunshine enjoying the visits. They are bundled up as it’s still winter for them. They must think we are crazy in our short sleeves and shorts.
This homage to Portuguese musicians and poets lined the wall of a tiny nightclub.
We arrived in Monsaraz around 12h45, parked in one of the many available lots that are outside the medieval walls and wandered back into time as we explored, looking for our hotel. I can’t describe the feelings of being there and imagining daily life there in the many centuries this tiny village has existed.
Looking for our hotel and our first impressions of Monsaraz.
These elongated door knockers resemble dogs.
This lovely jade plant decorates the window balcony.
My husband enjoying the sunshine at the door of our hotel as we wait for the others to begin our exploration.
We decided it would make the most sense for us to head off on our own to explore and meet a bit later for an afternoon drink. Diane, Marc and I headed off while Pat and Gary then Warren and Andrea headed off, all of us with excitement for the opportunity to explore this wonderful village, both inside and outside the walls.
Marble, quarried from nearby, in the north of Alentejo, is pinkish and in the case of this piece, quite beautiful.
Tile work on the top of the church, which as usual, adorns the main square of the town.
This is outside the medieval walls and we made it our first destination.
Looking back on Monsaraz from the destination in the previous photo.
Diane enjoying the sunshine, the easy walk and wonderful feeling that comes with finding something new and special.
I love this photo of Diane and Marc. To me it captures perfectly the tranquility we all felt as we explored this lovely area.
The surrounding countryside was lush, green and alive with herds of sheep and goats.
We walked along a couple of steep paths leading from one village to the other.
Beds of wild flowers dotted the slopes of the hillside, basking in the sunshine.
This kitty was enjoying the day and surveying the garden below, probably seeking out a “snack”.
These three were animatedly solving all the problems of the world. Boisterous and yet affectionate.
We climbed to the upper walls of the old castle that adorns one end of the village. The views were breathtaking.
I wonder what it took to chip away that large chunk of rock within the cross.
Of course, with the village being so small, it was inevitable we would all bump into each other.
The house of the inquisition. A museum.
This chimney was leaning in a rather odd way but I supsect it’s been like that for many years.
Up and down was the phrase of the day.
One of thee dog door knockers.
As agreed, we met up at 16h45 outside the church and Gary advised us that he had found a wonderful place for wine tasting. Off we headed for what turned out to be two delightful hours of great wine, entertainment, and camaraderie. All with a view to kill for.
Our crew enjoying the roof top patio and the vino.
Andrea and myself.
Patricia and Marc
Gary, Diane and Warren.
What a fabulous day it was………we headed back to our hotel to freshen up, relax for a while then head out to dinner.
These three shots are from Marc’s and my bedroom balcony…. The castle
…the hillside outside the medieval walls
The top of the cathedral.
A fresco in the local museum.
This patio was quite inviting to the eye.
Our visit to this lovely town will be one of the highlights of this visit to Portugal. There is still so much to explore, to see, and to do. In hindsight, we could easily have spent a couple of days here exploring the area around the mountain which is peppered with villages, hiking paths, beaches etc.. Perhaps another trip.
Following a good nights sleep, a hearty breakfast and a walk or to from the car to the hotel to pack our things away……which included a few purchases from the wine bar in the afternoon, we headed off for the second leg of our Alentejo wanderings.