Travel

Portugal: Beautiful Villages

Portugal is booming at the moment. It has been a neglected country, buried under the more well-known European brothers. But today, it is shining brightly and drawing millions of tourists to Porto and Lisbon to enjoy the multicultural vibes, historical architecture and delicious cuisine (port wine, egg tarts, anyone?). ).

While the capital cities are bustling, the country’s interior is largely a peaceful haven of rolling hillsides and quaint hamlets. These hamlets are built in traditional styles and are rich in art, culture and history. There are still some villages that stand out, such as these beautiful ones in Portugal.

Marvao

A granite mountain rises out of the landscape near Portugal’s border to Spain like a battleship. The medieval town of Marvao is perched on its highest reaches, surrounded by 13th-century walls.

Marvao, a defensive position considered important and beautiful in the Middle Ages, was featured in “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” by the New York Times.

The walls and the old castle are evidence of the military past. Today, the main village consists of whitewashed houses with red-tiled roofs, wrought-iron balconies and clean cobblestone streets.

Because it is close to Spain, there is a strong Spanish, Moorish and Jewish influence on the religious architecture. You can also enjoy breathtaking views from the top of the world.

Monsanto

The town is known as “The Most Portuguese Village” because of its unique bedrock. Monsanto was built around a huge pile of moss-covered boulders. The boulders are often used to create walls, ceilings and doorways, so houses and streets can be shaped around them.

For stunning views of the rock houses, wander the cobblestone streets. Eventually, you will reach the top of the hill, where there are remnants of a Templar castle.

The hilltop where Monsanto stands has been a strategic defence position since ancient times. Along with 11 other villages, Monsanto helped defend the country against invaders.

You can visit the village daily, but it is a three-hour drive from Porto and Lisbon. Make it an overnight stay at one of the lovely bed-and-breakfasts, then enjoy a lovely dinner on the terrace at Petiscos & Granitos.

Piodao

The Piodao houses are nestled in the natural amphitheatre on a hillside in the charming Serra do Acor area. They have been there since medieval times and remain relatively unaffected by the outside world due to their isolation.

Nearly all of the streets and houses are made from schist. This dark-grey stone is common in the surrounding countryside. The uniformly-grey village stands out against the lush green. The only dissonance is the whitewashed Church of Our Lady of Conception and occasionally blue-painted doors or windowpanes.

It is a great place to wander and climb the stairways and admire the quality of the stone houses. You can also take walks through the terraces to smaller villages such as Foz de Agua. There are a few stone houses on the hillside and a bridge made of schist that spans a babbling stream that looks like it belongs in Middle Earth.

Obidos

Obidos, a charming town with white homes decorated with wedding cakes and tile roofs bathed in sunshine from the hills, is very easy to see.

It was a custom the town passed to the new queen upon her wedding day. This tradition began when Queen Urraca, Queen of Leon, gave Obidos to her husband, King Leon, in the 1200s. Obidos was favoured by generations of rich royals who funded its luxurious dwellings. There are many charming churches from the past that grace the town.

It is surrounded by vineyards, and cherry orchards, which are used to make the region’s signature cherry liqueur. The castle at the top of the hill has Moorish origins dating back to the 700s. You can walk along the cobblestone streets and avoid congestion.

It is a wonderful time to visit all year round, but March-April is a great month for its beautiful spring weather, blooms and the annual International Chocolate Festival.

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