Évora is a city in the Alentejo region of Portugal. Although Évora is a rather small town of just over 40,000 people, it is the capital of the Alentejo and a university town. Évora's historic center has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986 due to the Roman monuments scattered about.
Thus the tourist who doesn't like big cities like Rome can still see a 1st century Roman Temple, a Gothic Cathedral built between 1280 and 1340, Vasco da Gama's Palace, a Renaissance fountain, a bone chapel--and wander around the University of Évora, once a Jesuit college built in 1559. All this wrapped up in a city that's been around for over 2000 years.
Getting to Evora
The train from Lisbon Rossio, Lisbon's most central station downtown) takes a little over 2 hours. There are 4 trains per day. The train station is a 10 minute walk to the center.
Rede expressos buses from Lisbon and take 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours to get to Evora.
Evora is about 140km east of Lisbon on the N114.
Evora Tourist Bureau
Tourism Office: Praça do Geraldo 7000 Évora, Portugal and at the town Hall (Camara Municipal) in the Praça do Sertório. They can help you with lodging, maps, and transportation issues.
What to See | The Major Sites
Evora has a fine central "square" called Praça do Giraldo, marking the very center of the old town. To the south is the Capela dos Ossos, the bone chapel that is a must see in Evora (pictures) and further on the Jardim Público, a fine place to stroll with some shade in the summer. To the west the Cathedral at Largo do Marquês Marialva sits on the high spot in the city center. It was built in a Romanesque style, construction starting in 1186 on the former site of the city's main mosque. Inside is the cathedral museum, the Museu de Arte Sacra displays some interesting religious objects, including a a 13th-century carved ivory triptych of the Madonna and Child, which, when opened reveals scenes from Mary's life.
The arches of Evora's old aqueduct has been stuffed with houses, a clever means of increasing the volume of usable land as well as using the support of the staunch arches.
The star of the excavated Roman ruins is the Templo de Diana, a staunch example of Roman design with granite columns and marble capitals that withstood the great 1755 Earthquake. The inquisition used it as an execution sight, then it became a slaughterhouse until 1870.
The Renaissance fountain at Largo das Portas de Moura (built in 1556) is worth a look.
University of Évora, once a Jesuit college built by Cardinal-King Henrique in 1559 includes a 16th century mannerist church and the academic buildings surrounding a 17th and 18th century cloister) You can wander around Monday to Friday from 8am to 7pm.
See our gallery of Pictures of Evora. You'll notice that I took a liesurely and pleasurable means of transportation around the city center: a horse-driven carriage, which can be hired near the Cathedral.
All in all, Evora is worth a couple of days on your vacation. Then you might think of moving on to Monsaraz, one of my favorite Alentejo whitewashed villages near Lago Alqueva, a certified stargazing location, the only one in Europe.
Food and Drink
My favorite dish of the Alentejo is Carne de porco à alentejana, pork with clams (recipe). Yes, they do go together. The Alentijo is probably Portugal's hotest growing wine region, so you won't lack for the juice of the grape on your vacation in Evora. Evora cheese is a raw sheep's milk cheese aged from two to three months and uses cardoon thistle as a vegetable rennet. The golden rounds of it were once used as currency.
Where to Stay in Evora
Evora's Pousada, Hotel Pousada de Évora - Lóios, was a former 15th century convent near the roman temple (if you aren't familiar with a Portuguese Pousada, see: What is a Pousada?). It's expensive, but you can't beat the location and the restaurant, as is common in pousadas, is a top notch operation dedicated to traditional, local foods.
You'll find more inexpensive user-rated lodging on Venere: Evora Hotels (book direct).
Tours of Evora
For those who wish to take a coach tour of Evora from Lisbon, Viator offers several. You can book a Private Wine and Cellar Tour to Evora, which visits the church, Chapel of Bones and Roman Temple along with the wine estates on a tour from your Lisbon hotel, or you can book the standard Evora Day Trip from Lisbon, an 8 hour tour through cork forest to Evora, where you'll tour the city.