Évora, Portugal’s hidden gem

In En-Route, Europe, Our Journeys, Portugal, Trip-Types, World Travel by Janis7 Comments

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.

A reference guide

Our recent new found love is Portugal, it is such a beautiful country. While planning our trip, I used the DK Eyewitness books. I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.

We used a previous version of this book to plan our north to south Portuguese road trip, now you can grab the revised copy.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Why not?

Start creating your own Portuguese adventure and discover its historical colourful towns and cities for yourself, easyJet & British Airways 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?

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).

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.

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.

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.

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, Rental Cars searches multiple well-known car hire brands and discovers the deals that suit you the best.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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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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  1. Oh, I would LOVE to visit Evora! All that history from the Romans to the Chapel of Bones would be a real draw for us and we’d love to wander along those pretty narrow streets. There are so many places I want to visit in Portugal! Thanks for inspiring me again on #FarawayFiles

    1. Portugal is a country that we’ve recently discovered, we went to Lisbon in 2017 and was hooked, so we planned a road trip for earlier this year. There are so many incredible places and the locals were so welcoming, we’ll definitely be returning again.

  2. We’ve also recently fallen in love with Portugal. We used to have beach holidays in the Algarve a lot when we were younger and now realise how much of the country we’ve missed. Our three city trip by plane and train to Porto, Coimbra and Lisbon was fantastic and we’d love to return to see more of the Douro Valley. I love the sound of Evora – the chapel of bones remind me of similar chapels we’ve seen in Austria and Rome – but I have to say the scale of these in Evora is quite spectacular!

    1. Coimbra is on our list for when we return, as there is so much more we’d love to see.

      Douro Valley is beautiful, if you are in that area Guimarães is another UNESCO city and very picturesque, we based ourselves there to tour the Douro.

      The Chapel of Bones was pretty amazing, where in Austria did you see a chapel similar?

  3. Yes it was a lovely town, wandering around the rooftop of the cathedral was incredible.Portugal has some wonderful towns and villages, we came across so many that we wanted to spend more time discovering.

  4. I’ve never heard of Evora but sounds and looks absolutely beautiful! I’ve only been to Lisbon but am itching to get back to Portugal to see so many other areas I’ve been reading about, and now adding Evora to the list. I think I would have the same reaction to the Chapel of Bones – intriguing but eery! Thanks for linking up with #farawayfiles

  5. Our first visit to Portugal was to Lisbon last year and we enjoyed the culture and the people so much that we knew we had to plan a road trip around the country.We toured for 2 weeks and to be perfectly honest, it’s just encouraged us to see more of the country.

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