5 unique destinations to visit in Portugal in 2019

The village of Monsanto, one of the unusual destinations in Portugal. [Image Concierge.2C/Wikimedia]
The village of Monsanto, one of the unusual destinations in Portugal. [Image Concierge.2C/Wikimedia]

A library patrolled by bats, a tower into the earth, a village among boulders, another under water and a famous sea cave.

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Portugal is a fascinating and historic country with many attractions, some of which are unusual and unique.

Here we explore a library of ancient books, patrolled at night by bats, a tower which tunnels into the earth, the village of Monsanto, which has nothing to do with the controversial pesticide producer, a village built around in within boulders, a 2,000-year-old village drowned by an electricity company and a unique sea cave where occultist Aleister Crowley faked his own death.

1

Mafra Palace Library - Terreiro D. João V, Mafra, Portugal

The Palace of Mafra was completed in 1755 and is now a magnificent library, containing 36,000 books, dating from the 14th-19th centuries and bound in leather. What is unusual about the library is that the books are threatened by pests, so the library employs the services of a colony of inch-long bats to patrol at night. They happily munch the moths, bookworms and other insects that could destroy the books and sleep behind the bookshelves in the day.

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2

Quinta da Regaleira - Sintra, Portugal

This unusual palace was eccentrically designed by Carvalho Monteiro and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It contains a palace, gardens, underground tunnels, grottoes, fountains and caves. It was built between 1904 and 1910 and invokes feelings of Roman, Renaissance, Gothic and Manueline architectural styles. What are really fascinating are two initiation wells (pictured) that resemble reversed towers, lined with stairs and going down into the earth, and used for Tarot initiation rites.

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