Evora, capital of the Upper Alentejo, is one of the most important villages in the country. Traces of its rich past have led to the historic center being classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Considered a museum city, Evora has still maintained its traditional charm throughout the historic center, within the 17th century Vauban-style walls.
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Stop At: Centro Historico de Evora, Evora 7000 Portugal
Topped by an imposing cathedral, Évora is laid out over a gently sloping hill rising out of the huge Alentejo plain. It guards its historic center with a vast outer wall and represents a valuable cultural legacy that UNESCO has classified World Heritage.
The city, with its narrow streets of Moorish originated contrasting with squares where the light floods in, holds two millennia of hsitory. Conquered in 59 BC by the Romans, they named it Liberalitas Julia. In this period, Evora gained great importance as can be witnessed from the remains of that time: the ruins of a fine temple dated towards the end of the second century, various parts of the wall and the gateway most recently called Dona Isabel in addition to the remains of thermal baths below what is now the Municipal Council building.
Little remains of the Visigoth period (5th - 8th centuries). There then followed the Moorish period started with the city’s conquest by Tárique. This lasted through to Christian Reconquest in the 12th century. Yeborah, as it became known, had already received an indelible Moorish influence, most clearly seen in the Mouraria neighborhood.
After the Reconquest, in addition to between the inner and outer walls, urban development moved beyond the city’s walls. The city was home to the court of various Portuguese kings of the first and second dynasties. During this period it was endowed with various palaces and monuments, particularly during the reigns of kings John II and Manuel (15th and 16th centuries).
Wander its streets and absorb the secret soul that a diverse range of cultural influences have laid down in this city of the World. There are also excellent restaurants and bars, esplanades, arts and handicraft stores and the youthful nature of those attending its university all adding up to a dynamic of the present with its roots very firmly in the past.
Duration: 1 hour
Stop At: Templo Romano de Evora (Templo de Diana), Largo do Conde de Vila Flor 4 Centro Histórico, Evora 7000-804 Portugal
The Roman Temple, over 2000 years old, is the ex-libris monument of Evora and is one of the most important historic ruins in the country.
The Roman temple in Evora was built in the first century, during the time of Caesar Augustus. It has a long history, serving as testimony to many transformations and different uses over the centuries. It was practically destroyed when the Barbarians occupied the Iberian peninsular in the fifth century, and served as a bank vault and butcher's to Evora castle in the 14th century.
Its original Roman design was only recovered in the 19th century, in one of the first archaeological interventions in Portugal. It is a testimony to the Roman forum of the city of Evora, consecrated to the Imperial cult, thus clarifying a 17th-century tradition that claimed that the temple had been consecrated to the goddess Diana. For this reason, it was identified for many years as the Temple of Diana. Recent excavations have shown that it was surrounded by a portico and water mirror
Duration: 30 minutes
Stop At: Praca do Giraldo, S/N0 Centro Histórico, Evora 7000-508 Portugal
Public fountain built in 1571 in white marble with a bronze crown. According to tradition, the eight grotesques correspond to the eight streets which lead to the square. Dates from the sixteenth century. The work of Afonso Alvares. During the Christian Reconquest led by the first king of Portugal, Afonso Henriques, Palmela was part of the defensive line built south of the Tagus. At that time, the king bestowed the lands of Palmela, Almada and Alcácer to the Order of Holy Sword which took on responsibility for their defense and settlement. In 1205, king Sancho I reaffirmed this gift by installing the Order´s Chapter in the castle.
In the 15th century, king John I set about a series of restoration projects, particularly focusing on the Donjon tower, and decreeing the construction of the convent that would become the Order's headquarters as from 1443. The castle underwent further alterations in the 17th century, during the reign of king Pedro II.
The Santiago convent remained active through the prohibition of religious orders in 1834. After a period left abandoned, the building was restored by the state in 1945 and transformed into the Pousada (manor hotel) of Portugal.
Duration: 30 minutes
Stop At: Cathedral of Evora (Se Catedral de Evora), Largo do Marques de Marialva Centro Histórico, Evora 7000-809 Portugal
A fortified church with Gothic features, Évora Cathedral is the largest cathedral in Portugal. Initiated in 1186, consecrated in 1204, and immediately used as one of the main temples of the Marian cult, it was only completed in 1250. It is a monument that showcases the transition from the Romanesque to the Gothic style, with Renaissance and Baroque additions introduced later.
The facade is flanked by two towers, both medieval, with the bells being placed in the south tower. The north tower houses a number of valuable treasures belonging to the Museum of the Sacred Art; some unique priceless pieces, such as the image of the Virgin of Paradise, the figurine of the Virgin and Child that opens up from the lap and portrays an altarpiece with various scenes of the Birth and Passion. The remarkable central dome, built at the end of the 13th century during the reign of King Dinis, is the Cathedral's true showstopper. The main portico is one of the most impressive Portuguese gothic portals, with master sculptures of the Apostles made in the 14th century by Master Pêro, a leading name in national Gothic sculptures. Besides the main portico there are two other entrances: the Sun Gate, facing south, with Gothic arches; and the North Gate, rebuilt in the Baroque period.
The interior is divided into three ships about 80 meters long. In the central nave you can see the altar of Our Lady of the Angel (locally known as Our Lady of the O), with polychrome marble images of the Virgin and the Angel Gabriel. The 18th-century altar and the marble chapel in Estremoz are Baroque works by J.F. Ludwig, known as Ludovice, who was the architect of the Palace of Mafra, at the service of King John V (1706-1750). In the chapel, the beautiful crucifix known as the "Father of the Christ" is displayed above the painting of Our Lady of the Assumption.
In the transept, see the ancient Chapels of Saint Lawrence and the Holy Christ, and the Chapels of the Relics and the Blessed Sacrament, decorated with gilded carvings. At the northern tip is the spectacular Renaissance portal of the Chapel of the Spore Morgados. And in the upper choir is a very valuable Renaissance chair carved in oak wood, and an organ of great proportions, also of the 18th century.
You can also visit the gothic cloister, dated 1325, and climb to the terrace, from where you can enjoy a beautiful panorama over the whole city of Evora, from the Cathedral is located at its highest point.
Duration: 30 minutes
Stop At: Capela dos Ossos, Praca 1 de Maio, Evora 7000-650 Portugal
One of the striking features of the façade is a church porch with arches of different styles - a typical example of the “marriage” between Gothic and Moorish style found in so many monuments of this region in Portugal. Over the Manueline doorway we can see the emblems of the kings that commissioned its construction - D. John II and D. Manuel I - whose emblems were the pelican and armillary sphere respectively.
One particularity of the Church is that it has a single nave, terminating in a ribbed vaulted ceiling, which has the largest span of all Portuguese Gothic architecture. On the sides we can see twelve chapels, all covered in Baroque carved woodwork. The main chapel, dating from the early 16th century, still holds important Renaissance features such as the pulpits. It's well worth noting the harmonious decoration of stone, carved woodwork and tile tiles in the chapel of the third order, in one of the arms of the transept.
Inside, visitors can see the strange Bones Chapel, built during the Filippine period (17th-century). The pillars and walls are completely covered by bones. It's also worth noting the late Renaissance doorway where the capitals of the columns seem to be decorated in a different manner according to whether one is looking from the exterior or interior.
Duration: 30 minutes
Stop At: Cromeleque dos Almendres, Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe Portugal
The cromlech of Almendres is made up of 95 stones set in two circles. Some of the stones are decorated with schematic and geometric carvings. A little further away we can see the Menhir which is about 4 meters high. Recent researches provide that the most part of the stones are in their original place and date the cromlech from the neolithic (4,000 BC) and chalcolithic (2,500 BC).