Évora, Portugal

February 3, 2020

Évora – this walled city was great for strolling all the alleyways. We stayed for several days within the old city. A train from Lisbon to Évora was €14 and just over an hour. From the station to our lodging was about 1k, cobblestones all the way. Still a pleasant walk. Many one way streets, even more “no way” streets (no way is that car getting through there), and countless alleys and pedestrian areas to roam.

We always talk about food and for good reason. Évora did not disappoint. There are many tavernas, restaurants, cafes, gelaterias and the like to enjoy. In Portugal you are never far from the sea, but there was a distinct change in options; much more beef, lamb and pork than seafood. But that didn’t deter us, in we dove!

History: The name has roots back to the Celtic times. But as most of Southern Europe, the Romans conquered it in 57BC and it gained such prominence, by the 4th century they had a bishop heading the church. Falling into decline through the 6th and 7th centuries, the Moors took over and Évora flourished under their rule for nearly 500 years until 116 when the Portuguese king wrestled it back.

What remains of the old Moorish palace (Circa 900AD) inside the walled city of Évora.
Now these locals call the old moorish palace home.

We stayed in a great little Airbnb that was in the Jewish quarter. This once thriving area was a gated community and the gates were closed and locked each evening and opened in the morning. Not sure if they were wanting to keep the residents in or the commoners out. Today, much of this area is home to many newly renovated Airbnb’s to provide income. It’s a straight shot to the center of Evora from this neighborhood. Very convenient and a lovely place to stay.

Living room of our Airbnb.
Bedroom of our Airbnb.

Cathedral Se

This gigantic cathedral is home to some of the oldest artifacts in Evora and can only be seen by paying an entrance fee. It’s well worth the €7 to see the Chapel, cloister, Towers and views from the top of the Church. Jeff returned here in the evening to watch a local concert. On a very cool evening, the non- heated interior was not appealing to me.

Diana Temple

The Romans were here! The Diana Temple is the best preserved Roman structure on the Iberian Peninsula. Evora was once a very busy Roman trading town and this Temple was attached to the Evora castle. Today, you can sit in the park, enjoy a cafe and wonder what these columns could tell you if they could talk.

The Temple of Diana, built by the Romans, stands atop the highest point in Évora.

Igreja Real of San Francisco

This Church was a mixture of many items: a chapel, museum, palace and ossuary. From the outside, it appears to be a fairly new building; however, that is due to the recent restoration work. There is also a nice religious artifact museum and a personal exhibit of Nativities from around Portugal by a local collector. The view of the City is quite spectacular from the top balcony. The entry fee was €5 .

The main attraction is the ossuary (Bone Church) that is housed inside the Church. While some members of my traveling party consider it ghoulish, I think ossuaries are exciting. As the town grew around the 1500’s, the cemeteries were disturbed, so the Church brought their faithful monks back home. They have lined the walls with the bones that were excavated to create this unique chapel. It is just soooooo interesting.

A view into the Ossuary.
Many bones line the walls of the bone church.

Aqueduto da Agua da Prata

Tne Romans originally built the aqueduct to bring water into the marketplace of Evora. Then in the early 1500’s, the basic aqueduct was upgraded to bring water 11 miles from the original spring into the center of Evora. This structure still stands proudly and is in great shape today. In fact, as you stroll through the city, you will walk under, around and shop between the arches. Jeff walked a section of the Percurso da Água de Prata (Agua de Prata Walking and Cycling Route) that follows the aqueduct to a cork forest and great views of the city.

A still functioning Portuguese aqueduct (1537) passing next to an active monastery. I walked along this aqueduct from its source into Évora.

Universidade de Évora

In 1559 the Jesuits built a university here and it was quite prominent till the Jesuits fell out of favor and were expelled closing the doors in 1759. Just recently (1973) it has been reopened as a center of learning. With all of this history flowing through Évora, you can see Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, Renaissance and Baroque architectural styles scattered throughout the city.

The Universidade de Évora

Igreja da Misericórdia

We walked by this very unassuming Church several times before we walked inside. My notes said “free” and “wow” but not much more to give us a clue on what we would find inside. In fact, the whitewashed building edged in yellow was not very inviting at all. So, this falls under the category of not judging a church by it’s exterior.

Once we walked through the unassuming front door, it was a truly big “WOW”! The tiled walls created in Lisbon by António de Oliveira Bernardes is one os his most impressive and valuable set of tiles he ever painted. If the tiles aren’t enough to make your eyes pop, the the guided altar or the large paintings along the walls should impress you. It is truly an artistic masterpiece from every angle and a Church not to miss seeing.

Right hand side of the Church and it’s guided altar.
Left hand side of the Church and it’s guided altar.

Abandoned Moorish Palace

Directions: We took the train from Lisbon to Évora for €16 one way per person. The trip took approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.

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