Peeling back layers of history in Evora

a group of people walking in front of a building: The 16th-century marble fountain, on Evora’s main square, was once an important water source. Now it’s a popular hangout for young and old.© Cameron Hewitt, Rick Steves’ Eur
The 16th-century marble fountain, on Evora’s primary sq., used to be as soon as the most important water supply. Now it’s a well-liked hangout for old and young.

From Romans to Moors to Portuguese kings, the proud little the city of Evora — set amid the cork groves of Portugal’s Alentejo area — has a large historical past. Simply 90 mins east of Lisbon, Evora has spectacular points of interest — Roman ruins, a 12th-century cathedral, and a macabre chapel of bones — coupled with a laid-back native scene and a hearty delicacies that makes me bring to mind Tuscany.

From the second one century B.C. to the fourth century A.D., Evora used to be a Roman the city vital for its wealth of wheat and silver, in addition to its location on a industry path to Rome. From the 8th to the 12th century, the Moors dominated Evora. Throughout its Renaissance glory years, Evora used to be appreciated by way of Portuguese kings, even serving as the house of King João III, who presided over Portugal’s height of energy (and its first decline).

Evora’s walled town is compact. The principle points of interest cluster inside a five-minute stroll of the principle sq., Praca do Giraldo — named for Giraldo the Fearless, the Christian knight who led a wonder assault and retook Evora from the Moors in 1165. As thank you, Giraldo used to be made governor of the city and the logo of the town. The sq. served as the city’s marketplace right through the Moorish length, and to nowadays, it stays a middle of trade and conviviality for nation people who come to Evora for his or her weekly buying groceries.

Radiating out from this the city hub are historically adorned cobbled streets — centuries outdated and safe by way of legislation. The yellow trim at the structures is not unusual for this area and believed to repel evil spirits. Jacaranda timber — imported from South The united states 200 years in the past — supply colour in the course of the summer season and crimson plant life within the spring. Lining those streets are superb eateries and stores promoting native merchandise, together with cork (the whole thing from handbags to postcards), tile, leather-based, ironwork, and Arraiolos rugs (hand-crafted with a particular weave in a close-by the city).

a piece of paper: The Chapel of Bones, at the Church of St. Francis, contains thousands of skulls and bones unearthed from various Evora churchyards.© Cathy Lu, Rick Steves’ Europe
The Chapel of Bones, on the Church of St. Francis, accommodates hundreds of skulls and bones unearthed from quite a lot of Evora churchyards.

As you wander, you’ll be able to see a number of remnants of the Roman wall that after encircled the city. However probably the most intact Roman wreck is up a hill, on the the city’s top level: 14 Corinthian columns, marking the Roman temple that after stood right here. Lately, open-air live shows and occasions are staged by contrast evocative temple backdrop, superbly floodlit at evening.

The Museum of Evora stands the place the Roman discussion board as soon as sprawled. An excavated segment of the discussion board is within the museum’s courtyard, surrounded by way of a lovely mixture of Roman reveals, medieval statuary, and 16th-century Portuguese, Flemish, Italian, and Spanish artwork.

Additionally topping the hill is Evora’s cathedral — a transitional mixture of Romanesque and Gothic kinds, status at the web page of a former mosque. Throughout the cathedral is a 15th-century painted marble statue of a pregnant Mary. All the way through Alentejo, folks have a deeply felt affinity for this ready-to-produce-a-savior Mary. Around the aisle, a extra lifelike Renaissance Gabriel, added a century later, comes to inform Mary her child would possibly not be simply any kid. For nice perspectives of the encircling plains, head as much as the church’s rooftop terrace.

Rick Steves wearing glasses and smiling at the camera© Supplied by way of McClatchy-Tribune Knowledge Services and products
Rick Steves

Whilst the cathedral is spectacular, I desire the extra intimate Church of St. Francis, constructed within the 14th century by way of the Franciscans. The spotlight this is the Chapel of Bones, the place hundreds of human bones line the partitions and a refrain of skulls stares blankly at you. This used to be the paintings of 3 priests who have been interested by society’s values on the time. They concept the chapel would offer Evora, a the city famous for its wealth within the early 1600s, with a useful position to meditate at the transience of subject material issues within the plain presence of loss of life. The concept-provoking message above the chapel door interprets as: “We bones in right here stay up for yours to enroll in us.”

After meditating on mortality, it is time to go back to the land of the residing. For a superb slice-of-life take a look at this neighborhood, head to the within sight farmers marketplace, with a aromatic fish segment, recent produce, and just right little eateries. Or you’ll be able to pick out up picnic meals to consume within the delightful public lawn subsequent to the church. If you need to take a look at the locals’ favourite pastry, queijada (candy cheese tart), you’ll be able to purchase them recent from the kiosk cafE within the park.

Whilst you’ll be able to zip out and in of Evora on an afternoon commute from Lisbon, I like to spend the evening and savor dinner at one of the crucial the city’s superb eating places. The Alentejo area has its personal proud, rustic delicacies with a lot of sport and powerful pink wines. Linger over dinner, then, past due within the night time, walk the gorgeous again streets and include the danger to simply experience a ramshackle, workaday the city within the nation-state of Portugal.


SLEEPING: Pousada dos Lóios (often known as Pousada Convento de Evora) is a luxurious lodge renting 36 small however smartly adorned rooms in a former monastery (splurge, Moov Resort Evora is a smart worth, with 80 minimalist rooms in a residential space of the walled town (funds,

EATING: For many years, Restaurante O Fialho has dished out a few of Evora’s greatest native delicacies. It is dear, scrumptious, and enjoyably pretentious (Travessa das Mascarenhas 16, tel. 351-266-703-079). Adega do Alentejano proudly serves conventional Alentejano dishes in a comfy house, with space wine poured from huge earthenware vats (Rua Gabriel Victor do Monte Pereira 21A, tel. 351-266-744-447).

GETTING AROUND: Evora’s primary points of interest are positioned throughout the town partitions — and the town middle is well walkable. For the ones arriving by way of automobile, a commute bus supplies simple shipping to and from parking rather a lot past the middle.


(Rick Steves ( writes Ecu go back and forth guidebooks and hosts go back and forth displays on public tv and public radio. Electronic mail him at [email protected] and practice his weblog on Fb.)

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