|Historic Centre of Évora*|
|UNESCO World Heritage Site|
|Region**||Europe and North America|
|Inscription||1986 (10th Session)|
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.
The city is composed of the parishes of Santo Antão, São Mamede and Sé e São Pedro in the historical centre and the urban parishes of Bacelo, Horta das Figueiras, Malagueira and Senhora da Saúde outside the ancient city walls
Évora is ranked number 2 in the Portuguese most livable cities survey of living conditions published yearly by Expresso. It was ranked first in a study concerning competitiveness of the 18 Portuguese district capitals, according to a 2006 study made by Minho University economic researchers.
Due to its well-preserved old town centre, still partially enclosed by medieval walls, and a large number of monuments dating from various historical periods, including a Roman Temple, Évora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Évora has a history dating back more than two millennia. It may have been the kingdom of Astolpas., and may be named after ivory workers. It was known as Ebora by the Lusitanians, who made the town their regional capital. The Romans conquered the town in 57 BC and expanded it into a walled town. Vestiges from this period (city walls and ruins of Roman baths) still remain. The Romans had extensive gold mining in Portugal, and the name may be derived from that oro, aurum, gold). Julius Caesar called it "Liberalitas Julia" (Julian generosity). The city grew in importance because it lay at the junction of several important routes. During his travels through Gaul and Lusitania, Pliny the Elder also visited this town and mentioned it in his book Naturalis Historia as Ebora Cerealis, because of its many surrounding wheat fields. In those days Évora became a flourishing city. Its high rank among municipalities in Roman Hispania is clearly shown by many inscriptions and coins. The monumental Corinthian temple in the centre of the town dates from the 1st century and was probably erected in honour of emperor Augustus. In the fourth century, the town had already a bishop, named Quintianus.
During the barbarian invasions, Évora came under the rule of the Visigothic king Leovirgild in 584. The town was later raised to the status of a cathedral city. Nevertheless this was a time of decline and very few artefacts from this period remain.
In 715, the city was conquered by Moors under Tariq ibn-Ziyad, who called it Yeborah. During their rule (715-1165) the town slowly began to prosper again and developed into an agricultural centre with a fortress and a mosque. The present character of the city is evidence of the moorish influence.
Évora was wrested from the Moors through a surprise attack by Gerald the Fearless (Geraldo Sem Pavor) in September 1165. The town came under the rule of the Portuguese king Afonso I in 1166. It then flourished as one of the most dynamic cities in the Kingdom of Portugal during the Middle Ages, especially in the 15th century. The court of the first and second dynasties resided here for long periods, constructing palaces, monuments and religious buildings. Évora became the scene for many royal weddings and a site where many important decisions were made.
Particularly thriving during the Avis Dynasty (1385–1580), especially under the reign of Manuel I and John III, Évora became a major centre for the humanities (André de Resende - buried in the cathedral) and artists, such as the sculptor Nicolau Chanterene, the painters Cristóvão de Figueiredo and Gregório Lopes, the composers Manuel Cardoso and Duarte Lobo, the chronicler Duarte Galvão and the father of Portuguese drama Gil Vicente.
The city became the seat of an archbishopric in 1540. The university was founded by the Jesuits in 1559, and it was here that great European Masters such as the Flemish humanists Nicolaus Clenardus (Nicolaas Cleynaerts) (1493–1542), Johannes Vasaeus (Jan Was) (1511–1561) and the theologian Luis de Molina passed on their knowledge. In the 18th century the Jesuits, who had spread intellectual and religious enlightenment since the 16th century, were expelled from Portugal, the university was closed in 1759 by the Marquis of Pombal and Évora went into decline. The university was only reopened in 1973.
The many monuments erected by major artists of each period now testify to Évora's lively cultural and rich artistic and historical heritage. The variety of architectural styles (Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, Renaissance, Baroque), the palaces and the picturesque labyrinth of squares and narrow streets of the city centre are all part of the rich heritage of this museum-city.
Today, the historical centre has about 4000 buildings and an area of 1.05 km².
Évora is twinned with:
You can get to Évora in several ways:
One of the nicer ways to see the city is by horse carriage ride. You can find them near the Cathedral.
Otherwise there's no real problem in walking between most of the main sights.
There are some Roman ruins you definitely need to check out, there is also the Capela dos Ossos (Bone Chapel), which is totally ornamented with real human bones, creepy, kitsch, but a must see. Contrarily to what sometimes is said, it is not unique.
The old aqueduct with houses built into the arches is interesting. It is completely dissimilar from the superbly structured one at Elvas, except that both seem far too much work for the trickle of water they carried.
You must visit the Almendres Cromlech megalithic complex, an important megalithic monument in the Iberian Peninsula. It is the largest existing group of structured menhirs in the Iberian Peninsula, and one of the largest in Europe. It´s situated about 10 km from Évora, going by Guadalupe. Continuing this trip, near Valverde, the Anta do Zambujeiro dolmen, also very unusual by its size.
In less than an hour you can get by car to Monsaraz (exit via IP2 to Beja, then turn to Reguengos), a nice, well preserved walled town on top of a hill overlooking the Alqueva Dam waters. There's plenty where to sleep (cheap Bed and Breakfast and Turismo de Habitação, and an Inn) and where to eat. Around it are a couple important menhirs, one of them with engravings (Balhoa) and the other about 5 m high, and a anta (passage dolmen). The Xares cromlech is a conjectural reconstruction, and was removed from its original place due to the Alqueva waters.
Évora, a university town, is expensive. There's nothing typically local for you to buy there, and most certainly there are no bargains.
There are several traditional dishes:
There are also several traditional desserts, all from conventual origin:
Drink and carry plenty of water especially in the hotter months (July and August, eventually September). Especially in August, you will be advised not to go out in the sun between 2 pm and 4 pm, unless you are used to it.
Remember that just going in for a drink is a perfectly acceptable way of getting in to see the public areas of a Pousada.
Alentejo wines are some of the best-loved in Portugal, and there's a variety of them. Some can be quite expensive.
This luxury hotel is located in the heart of historic the centre of Évora, a city classified by UNESCO as World Heritage. The Pousada de Évora, Convento dos Lóios, was originally a convent and one of Évora's most precious architectural buildings.
The Pousada de Vila Viçosa, D. João IV, is set in the former Convent of Chagas de Cristo in the historical village of Vila Viçosa. Very characteristic with its intricate themed rooms, full of legends and tales.
The castle of Estremoz is the result of the restoration of the magnificent Palace that King D. Diniz built for his wife, Queen Isabel, the Saint.
The Pousada de Arraiolos, Nossa Sra. Assunção, is an example of perfect harmony between the traditional and modern concepts of Portuguese architecture, adapting the austerity of a 16th century convent to today's standards of comfort and well-being.
There are several hotels and you can get directions in the Tourist Office, which is located in the main city square - Praça do Geraldo.
There's a multitude of Bed And Breakfasts, though most will be fully booked during the high season.
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