If you haven’t been to Évora, you must go! A UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s also the capital of Portugal’s Alentejo province. Évora is located in a beautiful agricultural region with olive trees, cork trees, vineyards and bountiful fields. Only 81 miles from Lisbon, Évora is well worth a visit. Dating back to the Neolithic period, this fortressed city has many monuments including several from both the Roman and Moorish periods in Portuguese history. Below are some tips for exploring Évora.
Stroll through the winding narrow alleyways and streets of the old town around Giraldo Square to find tons of shops. Purchase something made of cork, maybe some jewelry, shoes, handbags, hats, clothing, or even a bikini (don’t have a pic, but I did see some!). Portugal is also known for its artistic and decorative tiles, azulejos in Portuguese. They are made by using a technique learned from the Moors who occupied Portugal for over 4 centuries. Take a break in one of the many cafes and enjoy some traditional Portuguese cuisine and wine…or port!
The best place to stay is the Pousada Convento de Évora. It is conveniently located to exploring Évora and all it has to offer. A former 15th century convent converted to a hotel, the building features a marble staircase, beautiful frescoed ceilings and walls, and a cloistered garden. Though small, the rooms are the actual cells the monks lived in! All have private modern conveniences like bathrooms, safe, TV, internet and air conditioning. The hotel also has a great restaurant serving a delicious breakfast buffet (including Bubbly!!) and dinner.
Temple of Diana
When exploring Évora be sure to visit the Roman Temple of Diana, conveniently located in the square right outside of the Pousada! The Cathedral of Évora built in the late 12th century, just around the corner from the Pousada, has a museum and a terrace on top with the most amazing views of the entire city and beyond. Giraldo Square, the main square in the old historic part of the town features tons of adorable little shops and yummy restaurants. Absolutely do not miss the Church of St. Francis with its famous Chapel of Bones!
Chapel of Bones
Built in the 16th century by Franciscan monks, the Capela dos Osos (Chapel of Bones) within the gothic Church of St. Francis is quite a sight. I happened to be visiting it on October 30th…spooky! To free up land for further development, the monks moved the remains of 42 monastic cemeteries (over 5000 bodies!) to the Chapel of Bones. The monks then “artistically” arranged the bones throughout the walls and ceilings.
It’s very macabre, reminiscent of the Catacombs in Paris, and not for the faint of heart! Skulls, femurs, even entire skeletons are all on display. In typical teaching fashion, the monks built the chapel for visitors to remember their own mortality and perhaps change their sinful behavior while still alive. Yeah, I doubt that will work! Be sure to visit the Church of St. Francis as well, it contains beautiful wood carvings, extravagant gilding, and gorgeous frescoes by Flemish artists.
Now that you probably have goose bumps and are feeling a bit squeamish, tell me have you been to Évora? If not, do visit next time you find yourself in Portugal! Be sure to read 12 Tips For Traveling in Europe and 5 Essential Travel Items for Europe before you go.
Drop me a line, comment or question below. As always, keep traveling my friends.