Évora is a city and a municipality in the district of Évora, in the Alto Alentejo region of southern Portugal. Due to its well-preserved old town centre, still partially enclosed by medieval walls, and many monuments dating from various historical periods, including a Roman Temple, Évora is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is also a member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network.
Évora (EH-voo-ruh, /ˈɛ.vu.ɾɐ/) is a pleasant medium-sized city and has numerous monuments. The many monuments erected by major artists of each period of the city's history testify to Évora's lively cultural and rich artistic and historical heritage. The variety of architectural styles (Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, Renaissance, Baroque), the palaces and the picturesque labyrinth of squares and narrow streets of the city centre are all part of the rich heritage of this museum-city.
Évora has a history dating back more than five millennia. It was known as Ebora by the Celtici, a tribal confederacy, who made the town their regional capital.
The Romans conquered the town in 57 BC and expanded it into a walled town. Vestiges from this period (city walls and ruins of Roman baths) still remain. The city grew in importance because it lay at the junction of several important routes. The monumental Corinthian temple in the centre of the town dates from the first century AD and was probably erected in honour of emperor Augustus.
During the Barbarian invasions, Évora came under the rule of the Visigothic king Leovigild in 584. The town was later raised to the status of a cathedral city. Nevertheless, this was a time of decline and very few artifacts from this period remain.
In 715, the city was conquered by the Moors under Tariq ibn-Ziyad. During the Moorish rule (715–1165), the town began to prosper again and developed into an agricultural centre with a fortress and a mosque. The present character of the city is evidence of the Moorish influence.
The town came under the rule of the Portuguese king Afonso I in 1166. It then flourished as one of the most dynamic cities in the Kingdom of Portugal during the Middle Ages, especially in the 15th century. The court of the first and second dynasties resided here for long periods, constructing palaces, monuments and religious buildings.
It particularly thrived during the Avis Dynasty (1385–1580). Évora became a major centre for the humanities and artists, such as the sculptor Nicolau Chanterene; and the painters Cristóvão de Figueiredo and Gregório Lopes. Évora also held a large part of the slave population of Portugal.
The Battle of Évora was fought on 29 July 1808 during the Peninsular War. An outnumbered Portuguese-Spanish force of 2,500, assisted by poorly armed peasant militiamen, tried to stop a French-Spanish division but it was routed. Breaking into the town, the attackers slaughtered combatants and non-combatants before thoroughly pillaging the place. The French inflicted as many as 8,000 casualties while suffering only 290 of their own.
Évora being inland leads it to being one of Portugal's hottest cities prone to strong heat waves. Even so, it is milder than areas farther inland across the Spanish border.
You can get to Évora in several ways:
- By bus, (from Lisbon the ticket is around €10 for students and around €12 without discount)
- By car (distance: 140 km, from Lisbon take the A2 by either bridge, then A6, then N114 to Évora; tolls)
- By train (distance: 130 km). There are 4 trains from Lisbon to Évora daily (5 trains on Sundays). The trip takes 1 hr 20 min and it's a very comfortable train. The Évora train station is close to the city centre (around 10 min walking). You can check the timetable of trains in the official website of Comboios de Portugal.
One of the nicer ways to see the city is by horse carriage ride. You can find them near the cathedral.
Otherwise there's no real problem in walking between most of the main sights.
- 1 Roman Temple of Évora (Templo romano de Évora). Improperly referred to as the Temple of Diana, was a 1st-century (in some references 2nd or 3rd century) temple, dedicated to the cult of Emperor Augustus, that was incorporated into mediaeval building and, thus, survived destruction. Évora's most famous landmark, it is constructed of 7.68 m (25.20 ft) Corinthian columns and fourteen granite columns, and whose base, capitals and the architraves of marble excavated from Estremoz.
- 2 Cathedral of Évora (Basílica Sé de Nossa Senhora da Assunção, Catedral de Évora, Sé de Évora). Mainly built between 1280 and 1340, it is one of the most important gothic monuments of Portugal. The cathedral has a notable main portal with statues of the Apostles (around 1335) and a beautiful nave and cloister. One transept chapel is Manueline and the outstanding main chapel is Baroque. The pipeorgan and choir stalls are renaissance (around 1566).
- 3 Saint Francis Church (Igreja de São Francisco). Built between the end of the 15th and the early 16th centuries in mixed Gothic-Manueline styles. The wide nave is a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture. Contains many chapels decorated in Baroque style, including the Chapel of Bones (Capela dos Ossos), totally covered with human bones.
- 4 Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones). Totally ornamented with human bones, surreal, perhaps creepy to some but a must-see. Contrary to what is often said, it is not unique.
- 5 Chapel of São Brás (Ermida de São Brás), Avenida Dr. Francisco Barahona 1. Built around 1480, it is a good example of Mudéjar-Gothic with cylindrical buttresses. Only open for prayer.
- 6 Prata Aqueduct (Aqueduto da Água de Prata). Designed by military architect Francisco de Arruda (who previously designed the Belém Tower, it was built during the reign of by King João III between 1531 and 1537, the huge arches which stretched 9 km (6 miles) to supply water from the interior to Évora. The aqueduct extended to the Praça do Giraldo, and bisected the city, resulting in the construction of houses, shops and cafés built between the arches (such as in the areas of Rua da Cano, Travessa das Nunes and Rua do Salvador street). A segment of the Roman wall and foundations of period buildings are preserved along Travessa Alcárcova de Cima, a narrow lane in the historic center. This structure was mentioned in the epic poem Os Lusíadas by Luís de Camões.
- 7 Fountain of Portas de Moura (Chafariz das Portas de Moura, Fonte da Porta de Moura). The Renaissance fountain (in the Largo das Portas de Moura) was built in 1556, and an original design that includes globe surrounded by water (referencing the Age of Discovery).
- 8 Holy Spirit College of the Order of Christ (Colégio do Espírito Santo, Colégio da Companhia de Jesus, Universidade de Évora). Today a nucleus of the University of Évora, the former Jesuit college was ordered constructed by Cardinal-King Henrique in 1559, and includes 16th-century Mannerist elements, in addition to academic buildings constructed between the 17th-18th century (including cloister).
- 9 Royal Palace of Évora (Palácio de Dom Manuel). Remnants of a palace built by King Manuel I in Gothic-Renaissance style. According to some chroniclers, it was in this palace, in 1497, that Vasco da Gama was given the command of the squadron he would lead on his maritime journey to India.
- 10 Palace of the Counts of Basto (Palácio dos Condes de Basto, Paço de São Miguel da Freiria, Palácio do Pátio de São Miguel). A primitive Moorish castle and later residence of the Afonsine dynastic kings. Its outer architecture displays features of Gothic, Manueline, Mudéjar and Renaissance styles.
- 11 Palace of the Dukes of Cadaval (Paço dos Duques de Cadaval, Palácio dos Duques de Cadaval). a 17th-century palace, built from the remains of an old castle (burnt down in 1384), and later serving as Governors and Royal residences. The palace includes Manueline-Moorish architectural elements (including the Tower of the Five Shields), and whose first-floor houses a collection of manuscripts, family portraits and religious art from the 16th century.
- 12 Lóios Convent and Church (Igreja dos Lóios). Built in the 15th century, contains a number of tombs; the church and the cloister are Gothic in style, with a Manueline chapterhouse with a magnificent portal. The church interior is covered in azulejos (ceramic tiles) from the 18th century. In 1965 it has been converted into a top-end pousada.
- 13 Almendres Cromlech (Cromeleque dos Almendres). Megalithic complex, an important megalithic monument in the Iberian Peninsula. It is the largest extant group of structured menhirs in the Iberian Peninsula, and one of the largest in Europe. It's about 10 km (6.2 mi) from Évora, going by Guadalupe.
- 14 Great Dolmen of Zambujeiro (Anta Grande do Zambujeiro) (near Valverde). Very unusual by its size.
- There is a nice and big park (Jardim Público) where you can have a nice stroll.
- Show yourself and see others at the Praça do Giraldo, the city's social center
- Évora University main building (on an ancient Convent, founded in 1559)
- Eat and drink local and regional products.
Shops are open a little later than other places in Europe, usually around 09:30-19:30, and the lunch breaks can be quite long, usually from 13:00 to 15:00.
- Rua 5 de Outubro: From Praça do Giraldo to Sé. It's a pedestrian street with several small shops where you can buy souvenirs and clothes. The most typical souvenirs are honey, olives, all kinds of object made by cork, home made jams, slippers made by sheep wool, etc.
- Rua João de Deus: independent shops and services and known brands such as Pull and Bear, Pepe Jeans, and Kids' Class.
There are no malls in Évora.
- Farmers' market, praça 1º de Maio (close to the public garden). 06:00-13:00 Saturday. An out door market offering the freshest fruits and vegetables from the local farmers.
- Food market, praça 1º de Maio (inside the building in the middle of the square). Every day in the morning. You can find fresh fish, vegetables, fruits, cheeses, hams, flowers, bread, meat, and other local food.
- 1 Botequim da Mouraria, Rua da Mouraria 16A, ☏ . Mid-range.
- 2 Chão das Covas Café, Largo do Chão das Covas 1, ☏ . Tu 19:00–23:30, W–Su 12:00–15:00 & 19:00–23:30, closed M. Regional Alentejano cuisine. Mid-range.
- 3 Vinho e Noz, Rua Ramalho Ortigão 12, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M–Sa 12:00–15:00 & 19:00–22:00, closed Su. Mid-range.
There are several traditional dishes:
- Migas com carne de porco
- Carne de porco à alentejana
There are also several traditional desserts, all from conventual origin:
- Bolo podre
- Pão de Rala
- Mel e Nóz
Drink and carry plenty of water especially in the hotter months (July and August, eventually September). Especially in August, do not to go out in the sun between 14:00 and 16:00, unless you are used to it.
Going in for a drink is a perfectly acceptable way of getting in to see the public areas of a Pousada.
Alentejo wines are some of the best-loved in Portugal, and there's a variety of them. Some can be quite expensive.
- 1 Casa Palma, Rua de Bernardo de Matos 29A.
- 2 Herdade Água D'Alte, Aldeia da Serra 14, Redondo, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Água d'Alte was completely rebuilt. Here you will find: two country houses (T1 + T2), plus 5 complete suites and 2 double rooms.
- 3 Ibis Évora Hotel, Rua de Viana 18 , Quinta da Tapada Urbanizaçao da Muralha, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00.
- 4 Pousada Convento Évora, Largo Conde Vila-Flor, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. This luxury hotel is in the heart of historic the centre of Évora, a city classified by UNESCO as World Heritage. The Pousada de Évora, Convento dos Lóios, was built as a convent and one of Évora's most precious architectural buildings.
There's a multitude of Bed and Breakfasts, though most will be fully booked during the high season.
- Alcácer do Sal
- Beja, Serpa, Mértola (then you can exit to Spain or the Algarve)
- Portalegre, Marvão, Castelo de Vide (then you can exit to Spain or Castelo Branco)
- Castelo Branco
- In less than an hour, you can get by car to Monsaraz (exit via IP2 to Beja, then turn to Reguengos), a nice, well preserved walled town on top of a hill overlooking the Alqueva Dam waters. There's plenty where to sleep (cheap Bed and Breakfast and Turismo de Habitação, and an Inn) and where to eat. Around it are a couple of important menhirs, one of them with engravings (Balhoa) and the other about 5 meters high, and a anta (passage dolmen). The Xares cromlech is a conjectural reconstruction, and was removed from its original place due to the Alqueva waters.