After visiting the Algarve, and before heading to Lisbon, we decided that 24 hours in Evora would be a perfect addition to our Portugal itinerary. The old city of Evora, in the Alentejo region of Portugal, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, which has been inhabited since the 2nd century BC by the Celts, the Romans, the Moors, and then the Portuguese. The city is a maze of lanes that invites one to just wander and discover what might be around the next corner.
We took a bus from Albufeira that got us to Evora in the early afternoon. We checked in and out of the Ibis (not to our liking at all!) and found a gem inside the city walls called Hotel M’ar De Ar Muralhas…and if you click on the hotel name, it will take you to their site. It was fabulous!
The first afternoon we decided to visit Capela Dos Ossos or Chapel of the Bones. It is probably one of the better known sites to see in Evora. I wrote a blog about it which you can check out by clicking here. This chapel was built in the 1500’s by three Franciscan monks who wanted to ensure that the people exhumed from a nearby cemetery had a final resting place. The walls and columns of this chapel became that resting place for the 5000 bones that were brought here.
Next door is the Igreja de Sao Francisco or Church of St. Francis. This church was built between 1475 and 1550 and has both Moorish and Gothic elements on the exterior. Step inside the church and admire the vaulted single nave found here…the largest span of any Gothic-styled nave in Portugal.
After leaving the church we walked through town, past the Roman temple, to the remains of the aqueduct within the city walls. The aqueduct was built in the 16th century to bring water into the city center. Today some of the houses are built right into the sides of the aqueduct.
After a long day of travel and sightseeing it was time to head back to the hotel, have some food, and get some rest so we could explore more of the city in the morning.
The next morning the sun was shining, so after a fantastic buffet breakfast at the hotel, we wandered through the maze of alleys and streets enjoying the warmth and the way the white buildings came alive in the sunlight.
Our first stop today was Se de Evora, the Evora Cathedral, which stands on the highest part of the city and is the largest Medieval cathedral in Portugal. This Gothic cathedral, built in the 12th century, is built on the site of a former mosque and is certainly impressive from the the exterior…
…as well as the interior, where the amount of paintings, statues, and architectural detail is truly magnificent! There was certainly a lot to look at here!
With your admission ticket you will be able to wander through the Gothic cloisters and peer into the inner courtyard…
…as well as admire the beauty of this cathedral rising above the cloister garden.
Make your way upstairs and onto the rooftop to admire the towers, as well as the surrounding countryside. The Lantern tower has 6 miniature spires which mimic the larger spire in the middle. It’s windows provide light to the nave below.
After spending a good amount of time enjoying the splendour of the cathedral and the spectacular views, we walked over to the ruins of the Roman temple. These ruins, dating from the first century, would have been part of the main square of the city. Today the 14 columns, with their marble bases, become the backdrop for outdoor events that take place during the year.
Nearby you will find the Jardim de Diana, or Diana Gardens, named for the Goddess of the Hunt, which it was originally thought the Roman temple was built for. However, the temple was actually built to honour the Emperor Augustus, who was worshiped like a god.
It was time to head back to the main square, Praca de Giraldo, named after “Gerald the Fearless” a folklore hero who helped fight the Moors and secure this area for the Portuguese. This square has a beautiful church and fountain at one end and is surrounded by shops and cafes…the perfect place to sit and have an americano and an almond tart!
After relaxing here for a bit and doing some people watching we meandered back to the hotel, gathered our suitcases and headed to the bus station. We had enjoyed our 24 hours in the charming city of Evora and could definitely have spent more time here exploring the city and the countryside around it.
I gave Evora one last look and a wave as we headed out of town. I’m so glad we made a stop here in this charming city and for me it became one of the highlights of this trip to Portugal!