Medieval Monsanto Village in Portugal is built around boulders

Residents of this Portuguese Village Live Under Rocks. Literally.

Residents of this Portuguese Village Live Under Rocks. Literally.

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Nov. 15 2013 9:07 AM

Living Under a Rock: The Boulder Village of Monsanto

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The hillside medieval village of Monsanto was built around a pile of massive granite boulders. The placement of the rocks determined the shapes of the winding streets and the architecture of the stone houses—instead of trying to move the boulders, the villagers used them as walls, floors, and even roofs. From a distance, some of the houses look like they've been crushed by giant falling rocks.

Other than the odd air conditioning unit, plastic chair, and electric lamppost, Monsanto has retained its medieval appearance. It is now home to about 800 people. There are no cars—the preferred mode of transport through the narrow cobbled streets is donkey.


Rock on:

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Ella Morton is a writer working on The Atlas Obscura, a book about global wonders, curiosities, and esoterica adapted from Atlas Obscura. Follow her on Twitter.