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Situated next to the River Tagus, this area was donated in the 12th century by the King of Portugal to the Military Order of Santiago de Espada which controlled a vast territory with the Castle of Palmela as its highest point. For centuries it bore the name of "Aldeia Galega", and it was only in 1930 that it came to be called Montijo.

In the 16th century the population grew immensely, due to the arrival of workers from various regions to take part in the works whose aim was to make the river navigable by counteracting its tendency to silt up. This work had a definitive effect on the village, and opened up the possibility for the local economy to diversify, which until then had depended entirely on fishing.

Like almost everywhere in the Ribatejo, Montijo has a strong tradition of the festa brava (festival of daring), and bullfights and the running of bulls are an essential part of the town's most typical festivals, such as the Festivals of São Pedro (St Peter) which take place every year at the end of June.