Évora, Portugal’s hidden gem

In En-Route, Europe, Our Journeys, Portugal, Trip-Types, World Travel by JanisLeave a Comment

You’ll be bumping into history around every turn.

We venture on to our next Portuguese road trip destination, and now we are heading to Évora.

Évora - the sign, Évora, Portugal

We based ourselves here for a couple of nights, as we know this city has so many nooks and crannies for us to discover.

One of the reasons we chose Évora was for its incredible amount of history, I’ve read that there is a chapel of bones, so, why wouldn’t you visit?

Did you know? 

That the Historic Centre of Évora has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986.

Wander the ancient streets

What Gary and I enjoyed about Évora, was that it was easy to walk around. Lane after lane strolling over the well-trodden white tiles so synonymous with Portugal.

Quiet Alleyways, Évora, Portugal
The cobbled lanes of  Évora, Portugal

There’s such a beautiful mixture of architecture, not only from the Romans and the Moors but also more recent structures from the 16th century.

So, what did we discover?

As Évora’s historic centre is a UNESCO site, you can imagine there’s plenty to see.

If time is on your side, stay for the evening, as it is so pleasant to stroll around at dusk when the lights around the city come to life.

The Praça do Giraldo at night, Évora, Portugal

Sedate start

Just behind where we were staying are the Public Gardens, I can imagine this is a cool place to retreat to, escaping from the high heat of the day.

The bandstand and the Royal Palace of Évora or Palácio de Dom Manuel, Évora, Portugal

Within the grounds are architectural ruins from the Mudejar period, and just sauntering around the ruins and not giving two hoots about anyone are elegant peacocks.

A peacock in the Ruínas Fingidas, Évora, Portugal
A peacock with a full display, Évora, Portugal
The Ruínas Fingidas, Évora, Portugal

Our favourite travel reads

Largo de San Francisco

Just stepping north out of the gardens and you stroll into Largo de San Francisco, a pleasant square with cafes & restaurants. However, its centre-piece is San Francisco church, built during the early 16th-century in Gothic style.

The San Francisco church, Évora, Portugal

Restoration has since been undertaken inside and out, due to large cracks in the nave. Take a climb up to the outside balcony, for a view across the rooftops and square below.

A view over  the Dom Manuel Palace from the San Francisco church, Évora, Portugal
A view over the town from the San Francisco church, Évora, Portugal

Why not?

Start creating your own Portuguese adventure and discover its historical colourful towns and cities for yourself, <a href="http://www.easyjet.com/en/cheap-flights/portugal" target="_blank" rel="noopener">easyJet</a> &amp; <a href="https://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/destinations/europe/portugal" target="_blank" rel="noopener">British Airways</a> are just a couple of options.

Chapel of Bones

Who would have thought that around 5,000 bones would be so fascinating, but it is?

Inside the chapel of bones, Évora, Portugal

The chapel was built in the 16th century by three monks, who wanted to convey that life was transient. So, they unearthed the bones of around 500 monks from graveyards & cemeteries around the city (slightly weird).

A wall of bones, Évora, Portugal

Stacked high along the walls and pillars are row after row of bones and skulls. It’s incredible, and it sends a shiver down the spine.

Skulls in the chapel of bones, Évora, Portugal
The bones up close, Évora, Portugal

The message above the entrance reads “Nós ossos que aqui estamos pelos vossos esperamos” – “We, the bones that are here, await yours”. (A rough translation)

Praça do Giraldo

One of the main squares in Évora is Praça do Giraldo, attractive buildings and arcades surround the elegant square.

The Giraldo Square with St. Antons church in the background, Évora, Portugal

At one end is the church of St Anton overlooking the Renaissance fountain which was built in 1571.

What can you do with cork?

Perhaps not a question you ask every day, however, in this region of Portugal cork has several uses, even a bikini.

All things cork, Évora, Portugal
Really a cork Bikini, Évora, Portugal

Something to make your travels easier?

Tempted to?

Discover more of historic Portugal and tour its picturesque countryside or even head south to the Algarve coastline. You can do it all on a road trip, SIXT car hire cover all budgets and allow you to pick up and drop off at different destinations.

Upon the roof

As we head up to the highest point in Évora, we come to one of the oldest cathedrals in Portugal. Évora’s cathedral was built between 1283 & 1308 and has a beautiful cloister within it walls.

The entrance to Évora Cathedral, Évora, Portugal
The Belltower of the Cathedral from the cloisters, Évora, Portugal

However, for me the best part was walking upon its rooftop, it’s a bit of a narrow climb up but undoubtedly worth it. You feel like you’ve sneaked out to somewhere you shouldn’t be & the views across the city were fantastic.

The view from the Cathedral roof, Évora, Portugal

You can always rely on the Romans

Sitting high in the city near the cathedral is the 1st century AD ruins of a Roman Temple. It is so impressive how the Romans never seem to fail to achieve leaving their mark.

The remains of the Roman Temple, Évora, Portugal

Keep on strolling

All within hopping distance around the Largo do Conde de Vila Flor, is Évora museum, the public library, Cadaval Palace and church & the very pleasant garden of Jardims Diana.

The entrance to the Évora Museum, Évora, Portugal
The Jardim Diana, Évora, Portugal

The Cadaval Palace was built on the grounds of an old castle burnt down in 1384, Évora today still has large sections of the castle walls surrounding the city.

The old city walls, Évora, Portugal

Did someone say aqueduct?

We head off to find Évora’s 16th century Prata Aqueduct, which was designed by Francisco de Arruda, the same person who designed Belém Tower.

The start of the aqueduct, Évora, Portugal

As the arches start to reach out from the ground, we wander further along and find that no space is left unused.

You hardly notice the aqueduct, Évora, Portugal
Homes built into the aqueduct, Évora, Portugal

Homes and shops are built within the towering arches of the aqueduct, everywhere is utilised among the little lanes.

Something for the Traveller

Have You

Visited Portugal and discovered any towns or cities that you really want to share with us, as we can’t wait to start planning our next road trip?

Porta de Moura

Originally the water supply from the aqueduct ended in Praça do Giraldo, but further branches have led off one of them towards, Largo de Porta Moura.

The impressive spherical water fountain and bath is known as ‘Source of the Porta de Moura’, which was connected to the aqueduct in 1556 to enable people could collect water from within the city.

The fountain in the Largo de Porta Moura, Évora, Portugal

So please we visited

We really enjoyed our stay at Évora, although it attracts tourist to its ancient sites, it still feels very family orientated and proud.

Stepping through the cobbles lanes of Évora, Portugal
Along the streets of  Évora, Portugal

It’s hard to beat strolling along the peaceful cobbled lanes amongst the mustard and whitewashed homes and not feel content.

Where we ate

We chose a local Portuguese restaurant called São Luís, quite modest from the outside. The food was traditional, and you couldn’t fault the portions, my veal cutlet could easily have fed Desperate Dan.

The unasuming entrance to São Luís on the right, Évora, Portugal

Where we stayed

Our accommodation for the two nights we were in Évora, was at the modern Évora Olive Hotel. Fantastic location within the old town and had ample underground parking.

Évora Olive Hotel, Évora, Portugal

I would certainly stay here if returning to Évora.

Something from Get Your Guide?

Why not check out what else is on offer through Get Your Guide.

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Inspired to explore historical Évora?

It’s a delightful UNESCO city, and there are not many places in the world with a Chapel of Bones.

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About the Author


Janis, the co-founder of Our World for You, was born in London and raised in Kent and the Isle of Wight. Along with Gary her partner, they have been travelling part time since 1995. In 2016, they decided that enough was enough with the 9 to 5, so armed with the knowledge and experience that they had gained on their adventures, that they wanted to inspire others to travel the world near and far.

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