Évora, the gem of the Alentejo

Portugal has some of the most beautiful little towns that we can find in Europe, with a cultural and historical legacy that make them unique. Their beauty added to all the great traits of Portugal make them an ideal destination. Évora, in southeast Portugal, is the most beautiful one of them all.

Portugal is one of the most attractive travelling destinations in the whole of Europe. Its beauty, culture, history and gastronomy added to the fact that it’s one of the cheapest countries on the continent, makes it ideal for anyone who wants to enjoy a few days in a country that has absolutely everything and without having to dig deep in their wallet.

Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, is the epicentre of the country and where we can find some great museums, monuments, views, and the beautiful neighbourhoods of Barrio Alto and the Alfama. However, just over an hour away from Lisbon, in the heart of the region of Alentejo, we find the town of Évora, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The town has many historical attractions that one mustn’t miss when visiting. Évora is especially famous for its Roman ruins, with the Temple of Diana standing out above the rest. The temple was built in the 1st century BC, when Évora was under Roman domination. It was conquered by the Moors in the 8th century AD and then by the Christians in the 12th century AD. Another important Roman remain is the aqueduct, with houses built into the arches of it. However, history in Évora goes way before the Romans. A few miles outside the town center there’s the Almendres Cromlech megalithic complex, the largest in the Iberian Peninsula.

Another landmark of Évora is its cathedral, which is also part of its historical centre. It was built in the late 12th century and was finished in 1204, after the conquest of the city by the Christians. The building is a clear example of the transition between Romanic and Gothic style and its interior arches and its cloister are a true joy to behold. However, its popularity is overshadowed by that of the Capela dos ossos, a small chapel made entirely out of human bones. They calculated that 5000 bodies were needed to complete the chapel and that it even includes children’s skeletons. You can find it next to the Igreja do Sao Francisco.

Regarding gastronomy, the Alentejo is well known for producing some of the best wines of the country, along with some exquisite dishes. Açorda (mashed bread with garlic, oil, coriander and eggs), and any pork dish, such as the Carne de porco à Alentejana (Pork in Alentejo style) or Migas com carne de porco (crumbled bread with pork) are traditional from the region (any dish labelled do Alentejo or Alentejana) so make sure you try it accompanied by any of the great wines from the this rich gastronomical region. The town is full of restaurants but to fully experience this area’s gastronomical delights, go to Restaurante O Fialho, a rustic restaurant with abundant portions. Find it at Travessa dos Mascarenhas 16.

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