Evora is the cutest town you’ve never heard of. One of Portugal’s beautifully preserved medieval towns, it’s enchanting and homey, majestic and simple all at once. With relics dating back to the Romans, cobbled streets to wander and some delicious food to sink your teeth into, you’ll have plenty to occupy your time in this quaint town. So get your energy levels up because you’ll want to walk every square centimetre of these streets!
Yellow Trims and Whitewashed Buildings
The first thing you’re going to notice when you set off to explore is that every house in the Old Town seems to have the same decorator… or at least the same superstition. Most of the buildings are white with a distinctive mustard yellow running along the base of the street and around the doors and windows of each dwelling. Evora’s fascination with yellow stems from the fact that locals believe it will ward off evil spirits and prevent them from entering the home. I can’t say whether it works or not, but the effect on streets and alleys filled with this rich colour is startling!
Cork and the Wine Attached to it
This region of Portugal is very well known for its red wine. As a pretty dry area in Alentejo, you won’t be seeing rainforests anytime soon but you will see a forest of cork trees. Portugal actually produces approximately 50% of the world’s cork which is astounding when you see the size of the country on a map. You’ll see plenty of cork products such as bags, water bottles, hats and shoes for sale in Evora and you have my permission to pick up your own cork souvenir with a bottle of wine underneath it!
Remnants of the Romans
I don’t know about you, but I am completely curious about a) The fact that Romans got all the way to Portugal and b) that the structures they built still survive. I mean, come on! We’re talking 18 CENTURIES later! But before you grumble that it’s just a bunch of old stones, let me tell you about the kind of things the Romans built in Evora. Firstly, the temple at the top of the hill is worth a look because most of the original structure is still intact – it has 14 Corinthian columns. To have a peek at the lazy time facilities of the Romans, you can also pay a visit to the Termus Romanas. These baths had all the latest steam rooms and open-air swimming pools in the year 2AD! Almost unbelievably this was not discovered until 1987. Another prominent feature highlights Roman engineering, with the aqueduct. Wander past adorable little houses and cafes that have taken up residence inside the arches of this monument.
By mega, I mean mega adventure! Almendres Cromlech is 17km outside of Evora but if you really want to scratch that Indiana Jones itch, put it on the list. Some say these 95 menhirs (stones) was actually some sort of astronomical time keeping device. In any case, you can wander through this structure which dates back to 6th century BC. Did somebody say ‘throw me the whip?’
A truly confronting and somber experience is to visit the Capela dos Ossos. With a rather grim entering remark of ‘We bones that are here, for yours we wait,’ your self-reflection on the frailty of human life starts here. Franciscan monks set about constructing the chapel with over 5000 skulls and many other bones to respectfully ease overcrowding in cemeteries and also remind the population of the temporary state of life. Understandably you might need something a little light and cheery after this visit so I would suggest mingling with the peacocks in the Jardim Publico.