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The Parque Florestal Monsanto Lisbon (Monsanto Park) is a large protected forest to the west of Lisbon. The area covers over fifty hectares and incorporates two of Lisbon’s 7 hills and offers a diverse range of plant and wildlife. The Parque Florestal Monsanto Lisbon offers visitors pleasant shaded hiking trails, numerous traffic free cycle routes and a breath of fresh air.
The hilly landscape is recommended for visitors who want a break from hectic Lisbon. The capital’s main campsite, the Serra de Monsanto Lisbon Municipal Camping, is located with the forest, please see the end of the article for information about the campsite.
The Parque Florestal Monsanto Lisbon is to the western side of Lisbon, just north of Belem and lies within the city limits. This means that the entire area is easily accessible from the tourist areas of Lisbon and is an enjoyable area to explore for half a day. There are many bus services which run through the park, the most useful are services 723 and 729. Bus service 723 departs from the Marquis Pombal square and pulls in along the A5 ring road at Montes Claros at a central location, there are a minimum of 4 services an hour with the last service around 20:00. Bus service 729 covers more of the park but departs from the Belem district, there are between 3-5 services and hour during working hours.
The Parque Florestal Monsanto Lisbon was original conceived in 1934 by the Portuguese Secretary for Public Works, Duarte Pacheco, who was concerned by the rapid pace of urban growth within Lisbon. He proclaimed that the “forest” which had become eroded and de-forested be replanted and protected. The grueling work of re-planting the forest was performed by prisoners from Monsanto Fort and was completed in 1938. The park, previous to its creation in 1930, was extensively mined and quarried for limestone which was throughout Lisbon during the 18th-19th centuries.
These queries have been long been abandoned and are now completely covered in lush vegetation. Between the quarries the land was intensively farmed for crops and live stock to feed the growing city of Lisbon. The importance of the cereal production can be noted by the remains of windmills which dotted the tops of the windswept hills. The Serra de Monsanto was incorporated into the defensive positions of Lisbon called West Field Entrenched Lisbon. The defensive lines constructed between the late nineteenth and early twentieth century composed of strong redoubts, posts, batteries and other fortifications.
In January 1919, the Parque Florestal Monsanto was the scene of the Escalade Monsanto battle in which volunteer forces that had revolted against the monarchy occupied the heights of mountains and fought against the republican forces. This failed attempt by the revolting forces to control Lisbon galvanised the monarchist into the restoration movement which became known as the North Monarchy. As the hills of the Serra de Monsanto are the highest of Lisbon the hills have become dotted with multiple antennas. The broadcasting station of Monsanto, is one of the tallest structures in Portugal at a height of 100 meters.
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Lisbon’s main camp site is a very large campsite and is professionally operated by many uniformed staff, providing a quality service at a good price. There are 400 good pitches include 170 serviced pitches on concrete hard standings. There is a huge separate area for tents and 70 chalet style bungalows are available for hire. Central Lisbon can be reached by a regular bus service which continues late into the night. There is a very high level of security at the campsite and all visitors who do not have a pitch have to present identification before being allowed entrance to the site. The facilities are of a very high standard cleaned regularly and faults repaired rapidly.