Basically, you’re looking at houses tucked in and around giant rocks. Monsanto hangs off of a mountaintop overlooking the Portuguese countryside with views for miles. Monsanto has hardly changed in hundreds of years and enjoys distinction in Portugal as a living museum. Due to this standing, Monsanto cannot be changed and has retained its classic village charm.
Its tiny streets wind at a steep grade past red-roofed cottages tucked against mossy boulders. Some of the boulders are actually fitted with doors, leading to structures carved right into the rocky landscape. While the mountainous town seems a bit unorthodox, it is actually a unique twist on classic Portuguese architecture.
One of the most beautiful bookstores in the world.
Designed by Xavier Esteves, over the windows can be seen figures painted by José Bielman, representing “Science” and “Art.” Along with a stained glass window bearing a monogram of “Lello and Brother” with their motto Decus in Labore (“Honor in Work”), are plant motifs and geometric shapes.
Opened in 1906, Livraria Lello is an established bookstore, but it has certainly aged well over the years. It is consistently named one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world.
Queen Amélia created the museum to showcase the considerable collection of coaches and carriages owned by the nobility and royalty of Portugal, and the assemblage is vast. It does a fine job of displaying examples that span carriage development throughout the 16th-19th centuries—not just in Portugal, but also all across Europe; Spain, Italy, England, Austria, and France.