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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Historic Centre of Évora*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

State Party  Portugal
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iv
Reference 361
Region** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1986  (10th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

Évora is a city in the Évora Municipality, Portugal. As of 2004, it has 41,159[1] inhabitants.

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.[2] 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.[3]

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 is located in the Alentejo Province, a region of wide plains to the south of the Tagus River (Rio Tejo, in Portuguese). The distance from the capital, Lisbon, is some 130 km.


Évora has a history dating back more than two millennia. It may have been the kingdom of Astolpas.[4], 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).[5] 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.

Giraldo Square, in the centre of Évora.
The Graca Church in Évora.
The Capela dos Ossos or Chapel of Bones.
Valongo Castle outside of Évora.

In 1834, Évora was the site of the surrender of the forces of King Miguel I which marked the end of the Liberal Wars.

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.

Main sights

  • Água de Prata Aqueduct (Aqueduct of Silver Water): With its huge arches stretching for 9 km, this aqueduct was built in 1531-37 by King João III to supply the city with water. Designed by the military architect Francisco de Arruda (who had previously built the Belém Tower), the aqueduct ended originally in the Praça do Giraldo. This impressive construction has even been mentioned in the epic poem Os Lusíadas by Luís de Camões. The end part of the aqueduct is remarkable with houses, shops and cafés built between the arches.
  • Cathedral of Évora: Mainly built between 1280 and 1340, it is one of the most important gothic monuments of Portugal. The cathedral has a notable main portal with statues of the Apostles (around 1335) and a beautiful nave and cloister. One transept chapel is Manueline and the outstanding main chapel is Baroque. The pipeorgan and choir stalls are renaissance (around 1566).
  • S. Brás Chapel: Built around 1480, it is a good example of Mudéjar-Gothic with cylindrical buttresses. Only open for prayer.
  • Saint Francis Church (Igreja de São Francisco): Built between the end of the 15th and the early 16th centuries in mixed Gothic-Manueline styles. The wide nave is a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture. Contains many chapels decorated in Baroque style, including the Chapel of Bones (Capela dos Ossos), totally covered with human bones.
  • Palace of Vasco da Gama: Vasco da Gama resided here in 1519 and 1524, the dates corresponding to his nomination as the Count of Vidigueira and Viceroy of India. The Manueline cloister and some of its Renaissance mural paintings are still preserved.
  • Palace of the Counts of Basto: Primitive Moorish castle and residence of the kings of the Afonsine dynasty. Its outer architecture displays features of Gothic, Manueline, Mudéjar and Renaissance styles.
  • Palace of the Dukes of Cadaval: The palace with its 17th-century façade is constituted in part by an old castle burnt in 1384; it is dominated by the architectural elements of the Manueline-Moorish period and by a tower called Tower of the Five Shields. This palace of the governor of Évora served from time to time as royal residence. The first-floor rooms houses a collection manuscripts, family portraits and religious art from the 16th century.
  • Lóios Convent and Church: Built in the 15th century, contains a number of tombs; the church and the cloister are Gothic in style, with a Manueline chapterhouse with a magnificent portal. The church interior is covered in azulejos (ceramic tiles) from the 18th century. In 1965 it has been converted into a top-end pousada
  • Ladies' Gallery of Manuel I's Palace (Galeria das Damas do Palácio de D. Manuel): Remnants of a palace built by King Manuel I in Gothic-Renaissance style. According to some chroniclers, it was in this palace, in 1497, that Vasco da Gama was given the command of the squadron he would lead on his maritime journey to India.
  • Roman Temple of Évora: Improperly called Diana Temple, this 1st century-temple was probably dedicated to the Cult of Emperor Augustus (but some texts date it to the second or even the third century). It is one of a kind in Portugal. The temple was incorporated into a mediaeval building and thus survived destruction. It has become the city's most famous landmark. The temple in Corinthian style has six columns in front (Roman hexastyle) with in total fourteen granite columns remaining. The base of the temple, the capitals and the architraves are made of marble from nearby Estremoz. The intact columns are 7.68 m high. It can be compared to the Maison Carrée in Nîmes, France.
  • Renaissance fountain at Largo das Portas de Moura: Built in 1556 in Renaissance style. This original fountain has the shape of a globe surrounded by water, a reference to the Age of Discovery.
  • Giraldo Square (Praça do Geraldo): Centre of the city; in this square King Duarte built the Estaus Palace which even today maintains its Gothic look. The Renaissance fountain (fonte Henriquina) dates from 1570. Its eight jets symbolize the eight streets leading into the square. At the northern end of the quare lies St Anton's church (Igreja de Santo Antão) built by Manuel Pires, also from the 16th century. This is a rather plump church with three aisles. The antependium of the altar displays a valuable 13th century Roman-Gothic bas relief. In 1483 Fernando II , Duke of Braganza was decapitated on this square, in the presence of his brother-in-law king John II. This square also witnessed thousands of Autos-de-fé during the period of the Inquisition; 22.000 condemnations, it seems, in about 200 years.[6]

Twin towns - Sister cities

Évora is twinned with:

See also


  1. ^ New Article UMA POPULAÇÃO QUE SE URBANIZA, Uma avaliação recente - Cidades, 2004] Nuno Pires Soares, Instituto Geográfico Português (Geographic Institute of Portugal)
  2. ^ Classificação Expresso das melhores cidades portuguesas para viver em 2007, Expresso
  3. ^ "Edição Impressa".{456842A6-9631-4CC3-9C5F-E84A6AEEB13C}&sid=11039. Retrieved 2009-05-06.  
  4. ^ "Évora". Retrieved 2009-05-06.  
  5. ^ "The Mineral Industry of Portugal in 2002" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-07-08.  
  6. ^ Guia de Portugal. Estremadura, Alentejo, Algarve. Ed. F. C. Gulbenkian, 1991. p. 54.

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Évora is a city and a municipality in the district of Évora, in the Alentejo region of South Portugal.It is an historic/momumental city.
The Cathedral
The Cathedral

Get in

You can get to Évora in several ways:

  • By bus [1] or [2], (from Lisbon the ticket is about 10 euros)
  • By Intercity train from Lisbon (ticket currently 10 euros in touristic class) [3]
  • By car (distance: 140 Km, from Lisbon take the A2 by either bridge, then A6, then N114 to Évora; tolls)

Get around

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.

Temple of Diana
Temple of Diana


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.

Chapel of Bones
Chapel of Bones

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.

  • There is a nice and big park (Jardim Público) where you can have a nice stroll.
  • Show yourself and see others at the Praça do Giraldo, the city's social center
  • Roman ruins - Templo de Diana
  • Évora Cathedral and Cloisters
  • Historic Centre of Évora - UNESCO World Heritage [4].
  • Évora University [5] main building (on a ancient Convent, founded in 1559)
  • Do eat and drink.
No waste of space!
No waste of space!


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:

  • Açorda
  • Migas com carne de porco
  • Carne de porco à alentejana

There are also several traditional desserts, all from conventual origin:

  • Sericaia
  • Bolo podre
  • Pão de Rala


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.

  • Pousada de Évora - Lóios, Historic Luxury Hotel, Largo Conde Vila-Flor 7000-804 Évora, +351-266 730 070 (, fax: +351-266 707 248), [6].   edit

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.

  • Pousada de Vila Viçosa - D. João IV, Historic Luxury Hotel, Convento das Chagas - Terreiro do Paço 7160-251 Vila Viçosa, +351-268 980 742 (), [7].   edit

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.

  • Pousada de Arraiolos - Nossa Senhora da Assunção, Historic Luxury Hotel, Convento dos Lóios 7041-909 Arraiolos, +351-266 419 340 / 266 419 365 (, fax: +351-266 419 280), [9].   edit

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.

  • Casa Palma, rua Bernardo Matos29A. 20 euros for a double (in February 2006, required some haggling).  edit
  • Hotel Ibis Évora, Quinta da Tapada Urbanizaçao da Muralha, (+351)266 760 700, [10].  edit
  • Casa D. Antónia (Turismo Rural Alentejo), Rua Direita, 15 Monsaraz, (+351)266 557 142 (, fax: (+351)266 557 142), [11]. A simple family environment is a principal characteristic of Casa D. Antónia. It has one suite and six rustic double rooms, all offering air conditioning, cable TV, private bathroom with WC, and a breakfast typical of the region. It has an Alentejan patio with a garden offering panoramic views to the west. Here you can enjoy the pleasure of looking out over the remarkable landscape of this vast plain. The summers are hot and dry, the winters short, with rain and sun. Our mission is to combine an enjoyable family atmosphere with the kind of comfort and tranquillity so many seek in this day and age.  edit

There's a multitude of Bed And Breakfasts, though most will be fully booked during the high season.

  • Lisboa
  • Setúbal
  • Alcácer do Sal
  • Santarém
  • Beja, Serpa, Mértola (then you can exit to Spain or the Algarve)
  • Portalegre, Marvão, Castelo de Vide (then you can exit to Spain or Castelo Branco)
  • Castelo Branco
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