Montalegre is a magical place in the Trás-os-Montes region set within a magnificent landscape of schist and granite, dominated by its castle
The cutting wind, cold as ice, that was blowing on the day we arrived at Montalegre, along with an annoying drizzle, didn’t stop us from being strike with the beauty our eyes could see from the top of the hill where the Montalegre castle stands. The landscape is rough yet impressive with its schist rocks, the strength of the serra do Barroso Mountains and the sea of green of the amazing Peneda-Gerês National Park.
Montalegre a place of tradition and isolation
Mother Nature enclosed Trás-os-Montes, thus Montalegre, behind high mountain ranges – in fact, Trás-os-Montes means literarily Behind the Mountains -, keeping it isolated for a long time; This isolation, a problem aggravated for years by bad accessibilities, gave locals that sort of toughness that characterizes survivors and contributed to maintain unchanged old traditions and ancient ways of living. And from the combination of these two factors was born the uniqueness and charm of Montalegre.
According to several archaeological findings, Montalegre area has been occupied since pre-historical times. Celts, Visigoths, Suevis and Roman also lived and left their mark here. However, Montalegre conquered a special importance during the Middle Ages due to its strategic position, helping to defend the Portuguese borders against the Spanish attacks. Witnesses from those glorious times are the Misericórdia Chapel, the rural granite buildings and mostly the 14th century Castle with its amazing 27 meters high Watchtower, classified as National Monument.
As said, traditions are highly appreciated in Montalegre and locals proudly keep their traditional handicraft alive, therefore this is the right place to find beautiful handmade wooden objects, linen embroideries and laces to offer your friends and family as a souvenir from your holidays in Portugal.
But if you are not interested in handicraft, Montalegre will conquer you by the stomach with its absolutely delicious gastronomy topped by its famed sausages and smoked-hams that just for themselves make Montalegre a place worthy of a visit.