Évora, the heart of Alentejo

Évora, the central city of Alentejo, forms the heart of this rural region in the south of Portugal. Its attractions are not limited to several impressive historical sites. It is also home to some of the best wine and food the country has to offer.

Even if you don’t plan to extensively explore the region (although you should!), the city merits a visit by itself. In fact, the historic city centre is classed as World Heritage. According to UNESCO, it became the finest example of a Portuguese golden age city after the destruction of Lisbon by the 1755 earthquake.


Flavours of Alentejo Evora

Évora bones chapel

Probably the most remarkable site in Évora is the bones chapel.

“We bones that are here, we are waiting for yours.”

This – “Nós ossos que aqui estamos pelos vossos esperamos” – is the welcome message at the entrance of the bones chapel.

Using approximately 5000 skeletons of overcrowded burial places, a Franciscan monk built the site in the XVI century. Walls and pillars are decorated with bones and skulls. To add the finishing touch, the ceiling murals have death themes.

Although it may seem a macabre place, it does not feel that way (to me). Instead, the subdued light and the beautiful arrangement of bones and skulls make it an exciting yet somewhat bizarre site.

Saint Francis church

The bones chapel is part of the Saint Francis church, which lies between the Jardim Publico and the Praça do Giraldo (central square).

Saint Francis church Evora

Saint Francis Church Évora

Roman Temple Évora

temple Diana Evora

The Templo Romano de Évora, also (incorrectly) referred to as the Templo de Diana, has twelve Corinthian columns with its connecting beams still intact.

This structure is the Largo Conde de Vila Flor square’s central feature in the historical city centre. It is also the highest point of the city and therefore easy to locate, just walk uphill. It can be viewed at any time of the day. There is no entrance fee.

Surrounding the temple stand several buildings associated with the inquisition in Portugal: the Cathedral, the Palace of the Inquisitor, the Palace of the Dukes of Cadaval, the Court of the Inquisition and the Church and Lóios’ Convent, as well as the Public Library and Museum of Évora.

Cathedral Sé de Évora

The Cathedral of Évora (Portuguese: Sé de Évora) is the seat of the Archdiocese. It is also one of the city’s oldest and most important monuments, situated on the highest spot close to the Roman temple.

For great views of Évora, visit the roof, accessible via the bell tower. The staircase has 135 steps. In short, an ideal way to work off those copious dinners that you will undoubtedly enjoy whilst staying in the city.



Evora Portugal

Alentejo Food

If you like some fine wining and dining, head to Café Alentejo, an old tavern dating back to the fifteenth century. The ancient architecture of the former royal inn has mainly been retained. The original vaults (picture on top) are still visible in what is now the wine cellar.

The furniture is also typical of forgone times; wooden chairs with straight backs are not the most comfortable. Luckily you will soon enough forget about this once the food on the table takes centre stage.

The restaurant offers traditional meals; typical dishes are regional produced cheese served with pumpkin jam, squid, oxtail, pork cheeks and dogfish soup seasoned with coriander, olive oil and garlic. But best of all are the desserts, like the ‘flat cake’ with cinnamon.

Simply delicious.

The main dish is served in lavish portions. It readily serves two. A typical three-course meal (sharing the main dish) will set you back around twenty euros per person.

Café Alentejo

  • Address Rue do Raimundo 5, Évora
  • Telephone +351 266 706 296


The Vitoria Stone is a quirky modern hotel ideal for couples during a weekend break. A copious breakfast buffet with yoghurts, choice of bread, juices, fruits, jams and pastries is served in a stylish restaurant with a view, which doubles as a rooftop bar at night.

The hotel boasts a rooftop infinity pool and other facilities like a gym, a spa and last but not least, a sauna for those cold nights. Yes, they do occur even in Portugal. It was -5C when we were there, mid-January.

To check out rates and book, click here.

Porto Covo

Alentejo region

Évora is an excellent start for visiting Alentejo, but the region has a lot more to offer. Although it is one of the poorest regions in the country, it has an abundance of richness to provide for those that are willing to step off the beaten track. Thus, you won’t find any mass tourism here.

Visit the gorgeous beaches surrounded by tall cliffs. Enjoy a wine tour or engage in outdoor activities; the countryside is ideal for hiking and biking.

From Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, it is an easy one and a half hours drive, mostly highway.

So you know, I travelled to Alentejo as a guest of APTECE and the Alentejo Tourism Board, as a part of the Rota do Peixe initiative.

The 50 shades of light in Beja, Portugal

Beja in Alentejo Our visit to the sleepy town of Beja in Alentejo, a rural area south of Lisbon, was what you call a stroke of luck. The city happened to be en route to our final destination. As we had to stay somewhere overnight, we booked a hotel in the centre of...

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