Located in the heart of the Alentejo, the biggest region of Portugal, the city of Évora is known for its history, architecture, breathtaking landscapes and, of course, for its unique food and wine. All of this makes Évora a must-see if you visit Portugal, and it was even considered a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1986.
The city, conquered and founded by the Romans, was later fortified by the Moors, until the 12th Century, as well as most of the southern regions of Portugal.
Évora was then wrested from the Moors by Gerald the Fearless and later came under the rule of the Portuguese king Afonso I in 1165.
That was when Évora became one of the most important cities in the country. The capital, Lisbon, was only established in the 16th Century, and until then, Évora was one of the places where the King and its Court would frequently stop and eventually it became a site where many important decisions were made.
During its long history, several important monuments were established in Évora, and within its city center you can find different types of architecture, due to the diverse influences it was under. A good example, and a must-see, is the Roman Temple.
There’s also the Royal Palace of Évora with hints of the Manueline style (also known as the Portuguese late Gothic).
The construction of the Cathedral of Évora took several centuries, however you will see influences from the Romanesque and Gothic style. The city is also rich in churches with Baroque inspirations. Later, it was built the Prata Aqueduct, in the 16th Century under Kind João III reign.
In the city center, there are also cultural attractions that cannot be missed. One of them is the Bones Chapel. Its one of the most ghoulish sights of Portugal, since inside the small chapel its peculiar. The walls are lined with bones of the long-deceased, exhumed from the city’s graves as the city expanded to allow further burials.
The main city plaza, Praça do Giraldo (named in honor of the City conquered), is the perfect place for visitors to relax while enjoying exquisite examples of 16th Century Gothic architecture.
Since Évora is inland, it is one of Portugal’s hottest cities. Prone to strong heat waves, so, when visiting, make sure to try regional wines. They are round, full, soft but with a strong aroma and an undeniable quality.
Wines of the Region
There are many wineries to visit. The wines of the region are considered DOCG wines (Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin).
The white wines are known for being slightly acid and for its aroma of tropical fruit. The reds, for their part, are full-bodied, rich in tannins and with aromas of wild and red fruit.
To accompany meat or fish, it is impossible to pick a bad Alentejo wine. You will always feel and taste amazing flavors on the red or white wines. Also possible to be paired with some matured cheeses and curated sausages.
Évora & Alentejo Gastronomy
Food is amazing and diverse. Alentejo represents 1/3 of the country in terms of quality wines but also agriculture. When it comes to food, Évora is a prime example of how diverse the gastronomy of the Alentejo region is.
Bread is one of the main ingredients and it is used in several recipes and soups. Some goods examples are:
- Açorda (Portuguese Bread Soup)
- Migas (Bread Omelette – served with pork meat),
- Sopa de Cação (Dogfish Soup)
- Gazpacho (the Alentejo style).
- Sargalheta (Pork fat Soup)
- Sopa de Beldroegas (Purslane Soup – click recipe online )
- Carne de Porco à Alentejana ( Pork Meat Alentejo Style)
When it comes to animal protein, pork or lamb are the most common. Therefore the access to fresh fish becomes harder.
Desserts, can’t be left out, and in Évora, is the hometown of the Queijadas de Évora (Évora cheese tarts). Rich in egg yolks and sugar, mixed with fresh unpasteurized cheese that gives them a unique flavor and texture.
Most of the desserts in Évora are filled with eggs together with almonds or squash. Pão de Rala (Sweet “Rala” Bread) will be one of the best examples. The city is one of the most visited in Portugal in the last years.
Definitely worth stopping by when visiting Portugal.