Évora is the capital of Alentejo’s region. Filled with impressive historical and cultural landmarks, the city is one of the most popular places to visit in Alentejo. The Historic Centre of Évora was elected a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1986.
The city’s roots go as far back as Roman times. Évora still retains ruins from that period, such as from the Temple of Diana. Three centuries later, during the Moorish period, a fortified gate was built to improve the city’s defensive system, as well as a Kasbah. The presence of the Moors can also be felt through the old labyrinthine quarters of the city, which are filled with typical Moorish arches.
Évora is also home to a beautiful Cathedral built during medieval times, in the 13th century. In the 15th century, when Évora became the Portuguese king’s residence, a number of royal buildings started to pop up. St. Claire Convent, the royal church and the convent of São Francisco are some examples of those. The Manueline style of architecture characterises these remarkable buildings.
Besides Évoras’s rich monumental heritage, the city is also known for its beautiful whitewashed houses decorated with tiles and wrought-iron balconies, its colourful handicraft stores and the family-run cafés and restaurants, which offer the tastiest gastronomy in the land.
Located in the highest point of the Roman acropolis, the Évora Roman Temple is also referred to as Diana Temple, thanks to its similarities with the one in Mérida. The temple is believed to have been constructed around the 1st century B.C, in honour of Augustus, who was venerated as a god during and after his reign. The temple was built in the main public square of Évora, and it is surrounded by religious buildings related to the Inquisition period in Portugal, including the Sé Cathedral, the Palace of the Inquisitor, Palace of the Dukes of Cadaval, the Court of the Inquisition and, the Church and Lóios' Convent, as well as the Public Library and Museum of Évora.
The temple is a landmark of the Roman Empire in Portugal, and it is also one of the best-preserved monuments of this historical period in the Iberian Peninsula.
The construction of the Cathedral of Évora was initiated in the late 12th century, but it was only finished in the early 13th century. The building also underwent additional construction during the 15th and 16th centuries, ending up in a magnificent building comprising different architectural styles, from the Romantic style to the Gothic and Baroque.
On the facade, you can find the two imponent medieval towers as well as the portal with exceptional apostles sculptures. Inside the monument, you can find a real sense of the dimension of the largest Portuguese cathedral. When you enter the building, what stands out is the baroque carved altar as well as the pipe organ. The fabulous Gothic cloister is also one of its highlights.
The Évora University is the second oldest university in Portugal, after Coimbra, living up to the ecclesiastical and political importance of Évora in the 16th century. It was founded on November 1, 1559, and was initially managed by the Society of Jesus and ordered to close later by Marquês of Pombal in 1759, when the Jesuits were expelled.
The spaces continued to have a pedagogical function, hosting the National High School of Évora, but only in 1979, the University of Évora became a higher education institution once again. Today, the university is a pole for the development of the city.
The church of São Francisco, located in the square of São Francisco, is one of the most monumental churches in Portugal. It was the Royal Chapel of the renowned São Francisco Convent for a long time, which was the first Franciscan order headquarters in Portugal. In the golden period of the 16th century, the royal family used to settle there during their visits to Évora. Today, both its magnificent facade and the interior with gilded altarpieces, paintings and tiles, are the attributes that attract visitors.
The Church of São Francisco also displays one of the main attractions of Évora, which you should make sure not to miss when visiting Évora: the Chapel of Bones. Built in the 17th century by Franciscan monks, the idea was that all those who entered the chapel would meditate on the transience and impermanence of life, and would devote their life to greater goals. After a recent refurbishment, the Chapel of Bones continues to be an Évora’s landmark, impressive for today's visitors as it has been over the last centuries.
Água de Prata Aqueduct is the most important ancient hydraulic structure in Portugal, whose origins date back to the 16th century. The aqueduct underwent a major refurbishment in the 19th century, still contributing today to the supply of water to the city of Évora. Its most important section is the magnificent arcade - classified as a national monument in 1910 -, which runs from Santo António Fortress to the city wall. Both Lisboa Avenue and Chartres street cross the arches and allow a magnificent view over this amazing engineering work.
The Castle of Arraiolos consists of the city wall and it is classified as a National Monument together with the rest of the city's heritage. These walls are a landmark of the city.
Évora was an important city at the time of the Roman domain, showcasing several remnants of that time.
D. Afonso Henriques made the first conquest of this fortress, however, the Muslims conquered it again and only returned definitively to the Christian forces, in a reconquest in 1165.
In the 17th century, with the Restoration War, a major modernization took place, of which walls, towers and doors still remain.
With characteristics from the Middle Ages, the walls maintain their essential lines, with well-preserved sections and significant architectural elements.
The best way to get to Évora is through the Lisbon airport. To go from Lisbon to Évora, you have bus and train services connecting both cities. However, if you’re looking for the quickest way to get to this Alentejo’s city, renting a car is the best option. It is a 2-hour drive taking the A2 highway for most of the trip and changing to A6 for the last leg of the journey.
If you prefer to go by train, you can catch it at Entrecampos, Oriente Santa Apolónia or Sete Rios. There are trips at different times of day, during the morning and evening. The train travel is about 2 hours.
Travelling by bus is pretty straightforward, with many daily departures from Lisbon. Rede-Expressos is the bus company that provides bus services, offering frequent trips departing from the Sete Rios Station. The journey takes about 2 hours.
The best way to explore the city centre is by walking. However, there is also a bus network covering the city centre that operates under the name TREVO. The bus service essentially serves the historic centre of Évora, through two independent and articulated routes: the north and south zone. This Service is carried out by minibus vehicles with a frequency of departures of 15 minutes. You can also find taxis available 24 hours a day all over the city.
If you want to get to more remote places and be able to explore everything that Évora and its surroundings have to offer, the best option is to rent a car.
The local commerce in Évora is vital for the region. Everyone who visits Évora falls in love with its local-made products. In the city centre’s local shops, you will find many handicrafts items in Évora, like furniture and products made of cork, leather and tapestry.
Évora also has rich gastronomy, so visiting the traditional markets and grocery stores is a top priority. You will delight yourself with Évora’s delicacies, such as the wines, the high-quality meat, Évora’s cheese and the olives.
If you want to find a large variety of national and international brands, you can visit the Évora shopping mall - Évora Plaza - as well as the central streets of the city, which are filled with well-known brand stores.
Portugal tends to have pleasant weather conditions throughout the year, even with some differences between the north and south. The south area tends to have higher temperatures than the north. The interior Évora region, located in the south of Portugal, is one of the hottest parts of the country. The area is mainly warm and dry, but average temperatures can vary greatly. During the summer months, the temperatures range between 33ºC and 16ºC, while in the winter, the temperatures go from 14ºC to 5ºC. However, these numbers can vary even more. Sometimes, on winter cold days, you can get 0ºC or less, whereas it is common to have heatwaves in the summer, with temperatures reaching 40ºC. Spring and Autumn’s months usually have mild temperatures. The months with the most rainfall in Alentejo are October, November and December, with around 75mm of precipitation.
Évora is the ideal place to get to know Alentejo’s flavours. The pork and lamb dishes, the bread soups with aromatic herbs, the river fish, the sausages, cheeses, wines, conventual sweets, among other delicacies, make this cuisine one of the richest and tasty in the country.
Here follows a list of the best places to eat in Évora:
Botequim da Mouraria
Évora is located in the interior part of the country, not having any coastline nearby. To the west of Évora, around 100 km away, lies the southwest coast of Portugal, being Comporta the nearest beach to the town. Here you will find a beautiful wide-open sandy beach, which is a great spot for the summer months.
If you are a river beach enthusiast, you should explore the beautiful spots that the Alentejo region offers. Gameiro is by far one of the most beautiful river beaches in Portugal and it is located in Gameiro Ecological Park. For nature lovers, it is undoubtedly an amazing spot to spend summer holidays, thanks to its numerous facilities, such as the campsite, the picnic park and the extreme sports services.
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