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Monsanto and the Festival of the Holy Cross

Every year the ancient village of Monsanto hosts the venerable Festival of the Holy Cross early May.

One of the most symbolic traditions of Monsanto is the Festival of the Holy Cross, held in May, to commemorate the resistance to a long history of sieges: the women carry to the top of the castle typical rag-dolls (known as "marafonas") and clay jars, full of flowers, are thrown from the walls. The festival dates back to 2nd century BC when Roman troops had the population of the village besieged in the castle for six years. Out of food, the population tossed the last of its supplies from the walls to show the Roman’s that they had plenty more, or to tried to fool them into thinking that was the case- and it worked!

In 1938 Monsanto was voted the "most Portuguese village in Portugal" nestled on the slope of a steep hill (the Monsanto head, known in Latin as Mons Sanctus), which rises abruptly above the plains and reaches a height of 2,486 feet. Nothing is typical about Monsanto a village built around impressively big and balanced granite boulders.




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