Evora is a small, quiet town located about one and a half hours east of Lisbon, halfway to the Spanish border. With its city centre listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Evora is one of Portugal’s most beautiful and charming towns.
Although Evora is a lot less touristy than other parts of Portugal, it still has plenty to offer.
Here are five reasons why you should add Evora to your Portugal itinerary:
1- It has stunning architecture
The highlight of Evora is its stunning architecture. It has well-maintained cobbled streets, whitewashed and mustard-yellow painted Moorish buildings and hand-painted tiles. Its well-preserved old town centre is still partially enclosed by medieval walls and a great way to experience Evora is by getting lost inside those walls. Don’t just follow the guidebook; walk around and discover every hidden corner of it.
2- There are many monuments, museums and churches
Evora might not be a large town but it has a vast array of fascinating historical monuments, several museums and some truly beautiful churches. If, like us, you only have one day, you may not have time to see them all.
If that’s the case, be sure not to miss Evora’s most unusual church, the Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones). The Capela dos Ossos dates from the 17th century. Its interior walls are decorated with the bones and skulls of monks, all stacked neatly together. It is one of the more touristy monuments in Évora and pretty amazing to visit (although slightly creepy!).
The Igreja Sao Joao Evangelista is another true gem, featuring entire walls decorated with Portuguese tiles. Not far from there, check out the University of Evora. In this ancient institution, you’ll find more stunning, hand-painted tiles along with some Italian Renaissance-style cloisters. Because this university is still functioning, you’ll also get to see the students going about their daily life.
Another great site to visit is the Sé cathedral. This cathedral is a beautiful example of gothic architecture. Its architecture is quite unique because if you look up you’ll see that its two towers are asymmetric. The cathedral lies at the highest part of the city. If you climb up to its rooftop you’ll have a fantastic panoramic view out across the city.
3- You can visit a Roman Temple
The Temple of Diana is an interesting remnant of Portugal’s past Roman occupation. This temple was built in the 1st century A.D and is built from granite & marble. Fourteen of its columns are still intact. It was built as a place of worship for the emperor Augustus and was later protected from destruction by being incorporated into multiple buildings, including the Evora Castle, a wood store, and even an abattoir!
4- It’s home to some intriguing prehistoric standing stones
In the countryside around Evora, you’ll come across numerous Neolithic stone formations. The nicest ones to visit are the Almendres Cromlech. The Almendres Cromlech comprises ninety-five standing stones that form two large circles. They were once part of a ceremonial site dedicated to a celestial religion. It is said that the first stones were laid in 6,000 BC.
The Almendres Cromlech are located twenty kilometres out of Evora on the way to Lisbon. If you have a hire car it’s a great place to stop for a while on your way either to or from the capital.
5- The food and wine
Wherever we’re travelling, eating great food and drinking great wine is always one of our favourite pastimes! In Evora, you can eat and drink magnificent produce from the Alentejo region. It’s certainly mouth-watering and the Alentejo gastronomy is one of the richest and most renowned in Portugal. We had heard a lot about it during our previous week driving around Portugal. We were excited to stop off in Evora to try it out for ourselves.
Our hotel in Evora suggested we dine at Luar de Janeiro and it was a superb recommendation! They served up some of the best Portuguese food we’d had during our trip and the wine was amazing as well. It’s a fantastic place to savour the region’s produce.
How to get to Evora?
It’s very easy to get to Évora from Lisbon. You can hire a car and drive there. Alternatively, you can take a 90-minute bus ride or a more relaxed train ride. It’s easy enough to visit on a day trip from Lisbon but we’d recommend spending at least one night there. You’ll then be able to see more of the sights and have time to soak up the atmosphere.
Where to stay in Evora?
This small boutique hotel is located inside the old town walls in a quiet neighbourhood close to the aqueduct. It has spacious and comfortable rooms. It also has free underground parking if you have a hire car. But the best part is their organic breakfast with a la carte hot dishes made from local produce. Yum!
Prices start from 116 euros. Find the latest prices here.
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