Sabugal, Sortelha, Belmonte & Monsanto

Program Overview
Country: Portugal

The early frontier town of Sabugal lies on a low hill overlooking the valley of the River Côa, surrounded by fertile plants, flanked by a 14th century fortress that manages to be both strong and beautiful at the same time. Sortelha is a tiny, peaceful village fixed in a landscape of granite boulders. The old village is contained within castle walls and built only of granite; houses are constructed around protruding boulders and are roofed with terracotta. Belmonte has been held by the Marranos for 400 years, housing a cluster of crypto-Jews descended from those forced to convert to Catholicism at the end of the 15th century but who continued to practice their faith in secret. The Marranos incorporate pieces of the Hebrew rituals into Catholic faith without knowing the original significance. Monsanto, or Sacred Mount, is the most dramatic and astonishing of Portugal’s hill settlements. The community is camouflaged by its granite buildings and magnificent views in every direction.