In the centre of Portugal, within the Alentejo region, sits the small and sweet city of Evora. Famous for its ancient Roman temple that sits proudly in the historic centre and the peculiar skeleton filled chapel of bones. Evora has become popular for its picture perfect whitewashed houses, which are framed in yellow to ward off evil spirits. Exploring the city’s tiny cobbled streets can be challenging in the heat, so here’s my top must sees and dos to help with your planning.
Beco Da Espinhosa
Evora is filled with cobbled alleyways saturated with yellow on the walls. The yellow is rumoured to warn off evil spirits. This alleyway is far from demons and devils! This cobbled corner is hidden away from the crowds, where the locals dry their washing and where you can climb up a set of stairs that leads to a bar/restaurant called Pateo. Not only is this spot a great photo opportunity, but the stairway boost a history timeline of Evora. You can be educated whilst slurping on a beer in the terrace area.
When the sun is hot and blazing, the Jardim Publico is a great yard to hard out and chill with the locals…by locals I mean the main residents of the park – Peacocks! These colourful beauties freely roam around in peace, showing off their vibrant feathers. If you’re lucky enough you might find one lying on the ground – finders keepers! Within the garden there’s also a palace, duck pond and a small cafe for refreshments.
Hidden Roman Ruins
Evora is famous for its Roman temple that stands proud in the city centre, but people often miss the ancient baths that live inside the Town Hall. The baths are on display through a glass window and the remains are one of the oldest proofs of ancient settlement in Evora.
There’s no doubt about it, you MUST visit the Cathedral when in Evora! It’s a pretty big monument but don’t miss heading up to the roof for panoramic views of the city. Best to head there first thing in the morning (9am) to avoid any photo bombers!
Neolithic stone formations
Evora is home to 95 ancient standing stones known as Almendres Cromlech. They date all the way back to 6,000 B.C. and many the stones have ancient patterns and diagrams of unknown meanings, which add to the mystery of the site. You’ll have to make a bit of effort to reach this site, either by rental car or taxi – 16km away taking around 25 minutes. Top tip: go for sunset, as the surrounding countryside makes it rather magical.
Once upon a time this large stone structure delivered fresh drinking water to the city from the closest flowing river 9km North. Today its large arches still stand strong, with charming little shops and houses hidden within its frame. The best streets to view the aqueduct are around the Rua do Cano, Rua do Salvador and Travessa das Nunes. Plus the excellent Chao das Covas Cafe is hidden within the arches (see hidden bars/restaurants).
The Bone Church
There is something quite poetic about this church. By the 16th century, over 43 cemeteries were crowding Evora’s valuable land, so it was decided by the monks to relocate the bones into this chapel. They thought this would provide Évora, a town noted for its wealth in the early 1600s, with a helpful place to meditate on the transience of material things in the undeniable presence of death. This is made clear by the thought-provoking message above the chapel door: “Nós ossos que aqui estamos, pelos vossos esperamos,” or: “We bones, are here, waiting for yours.”