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Évora, the heart of Alentejo

Updated: 20 hours ago

Have you visited the city of Évora? We are talking about a city that continues to receive thousands of tourists who go in search of a heritage that spans time and people, located in the Alentejo region and sub-region of Central Alentejo, with 49 252 inhabitants in 2011. It is the seat of the fifth largest municipality in Portugal, with an area of 1 307.08 km² and 56 596 inhabitants (2011), subdivided into 12 parishes. Évora and its surrounding region has a rich history that goes back more than five millennia, as demonstrated by megalithic monuments. Some Neolithic settlements developed in the region, the closest located in Alto de São Bento.

On this tour of Évora you will get to know Giraldo Square, the heart of the city.

And history tells us that it has always been that way. The name comes from Geraldo Geraldes who conquered the city from the Moors in the mid-12th century. In the centre, the esplanades, always full of people. In the background, both north and south of the square, are two imposing buildings - the Church of Santo Antão and the Bank of Portugal. Right in front of the church, the almost 500-year-old fountain. And, of course, the arcades that house traditional commerce shops and provide shade on the hottest days. And there are many of them...

Évora Cathedral

This is the largest cathedral in Portugal from the medieval period. It was built in the 12th and 13th centuries, at a time when the Romanesque style was changing to the Gothic. The rough appearance, mainly due to the dark granite, contrasts with details of great beauty and technique such as the images of the 12 apostles on the façade and the rose windows. The Museu de Arte Sacra is housed inside the Sé of Évora. It brings together a valuable collection of religious art, especially painting, sculpture and sacred goldsmithery. If you appreciate this type of collection, you will find furniture and jewellery from the 16th to 18th centuries on display here. The highlight is a work by Francisco Campos, the Adoration of the Magi.

The creepiest place is undoubtedly the Chapel of Bones, located inside the Church of San Francisco, an unprecedented work. Both fascinating and occult, the Chapel of Bones is completely lined with human bones. The purpose of this peculiar construction, which welcomes us with the inscription "We bones that are here for you await", is to point out how ephemeral life is, being only a passage to heaven (or hell).

Roman Temple of Diana

Yes, it is a temple built 20 centuries ago. Évora's Roman Temple completely dominates Largo Conde de Vila Flor and is one of those monuments that takes your breath away. It is said to have been built in homage to Emperor Augustus and is still today one of the best preserved temples of Roman origin in the whole Iberian Peninsula.

Monsarraz The cute medieval village of Monsaraz, maintains its magic of yesteryear like few other places in the world. Suspended in time, the historic Alentejo town, one of the oldest in Portugal, is a must-see destination on your list of places to visit in the Alentejo. The privileged location of Monsaraz, situated on top of the hill and overlooking the Guadiana and the border with Spain, made it highly coveted by the peoples who disputed it. Monsaraz was conquered from the Muslims by Geraldo without awe, in 1167, in a military incursion that left Évora.

After the defeat in Badajoz, D. Afonso Henriques lost control of Monsaraz again to the Moors. However, in 1232, King D. Sancho II recovered Monsaraz once and for all with the support and help of the Knights Templar, to whom he ended up donating the beautiful town in the Alentejo. In fact, the marks left by the Order of the Temple, later Order of Christ, are still alive and well among the walls of Monsaraz.


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