Evoking Evora the Heart of Alentejo

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Come with me as I uncover Evora, the capital of the Alentejo region and a city inhabited since the 2nd century B.C. Do visit Evora and tick off your travel checklist of having set foot on yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Evora’s roots run deep to the ancient Roman times and a royal city where the Portuguese kings reside in the 15th century. The Historic Centre of Evora had survived unscathed in the great earthquake of 1755 that destroyed many Portugal’s cities, including  Lisbon. Evora is recognised as  the finest example of the golden age of Portugal. Evora is by no means a sleepy town as it is also the home for the students who attend University of Évora, the second oldest university in Portugal.

Evora does not put on any airs and graces either. Evora is as authentic as it feels and remains untouched by its adaptation to the modernity. Walk on the narrow cobbled streets and uncover fine examples of historical monuments e.g. the Roman relic of Templo de Diana, Se Cathedral and Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones). The Templo de Diana is well-lit at night giving an imposing ambience that never fails to impress. Don’t forget to visit Jardim de Diana, a garden behind the Templo de Diana. Jardim de Diana is great for people watching  as you recover from walking on cobblestones. To add to the creepiness, Capela dos Ossos is lined wall to wall with human bones. You can climb to the roof terrace of Se Cathedral and admire the great views of Evora and beyond. Framed by the ancient Evora city walls, the imposing arches of aqueduct (Aqueduto de Agua de Prata) outside the city walls will surely take your breath away. The Aqueduto de Agua de Prata is connected to the water springs in Graça do Divor, 18km to the north. I love the Aqueduto de Agua de Prata.

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How long should you stay? One day is probably quite sufficient to see all that Evora has to offer. I love Evora’s quaint old buildings with paint-chipped white-washed walls and its arches and window frames painted with either golden yellow, pastel blues or greys. It was raining when we visited Evora but the rain did not dampen our spirits and our sense of adventure. Evora is beautiful even on a rainy day. Evora has this timeless appeal that draws you back again and again. What is your favourite memory of Evora?

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Aha! One must not forget to eat. Cars need gas and human needs food. 🙂  One of the must eats in Portugal is the Portuguese egg tarts (Portuguese: Pastel de nata). Tick off yet another must eat checklist at Cafe Arcadia. OK, I agree that these are not the famous Pastéis de Belém‘s egg tarts but it will do to stop the craving for egg tarts until I get to Belem. I bought some delicious egg tarts and palmier for my elevenses from the Cafe Arcadia. Cafe Arcadia is an ideal breakfast spot too as it opens at 8am.

In Alentejo, you can certainly afford to eat well. For lunch, you must eat at the Botequim da Mouraria run by a really friendly and hospitable husband and wife team. Many tourists know about this place as it is listed in the Michelin Guide and is still rank as Evora’s Tripadvisor No.1 restaurant. If I am not mistaken, there are only 9 seats in the counter. Therefore, you must be there at 12.30pm sharp should you wish to bag your space. If you are lucky, you can catch Alentejo’s must eats all in one sitting.

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As you sit and watch the maestro prepare your meal right in front of your eyes, your eyes can also feast on the tasteful decorations of the huge collection of wine bottles lining the shelves, ceramic Portuguese lamps, a jar of old wine corks, really huge lemons, mangoes, half a pineapple, cheeses and Portuguese desserts. Botequim da Mouraria is truly a delight for hungry eyes and mouths. We had the pleasure of savouring a starter of presunto de porco preto (Portuguese black pig cured ham),lightly grilled portobello mushrooms with a drizzle of olive oil and roasted peppers. For the mains, we had the legendary juicy porco preto pork chop (a.k.a. black pig pork chop) with potato chips and a side salad of cucumber, lettuce and tomato. Sorry about the half-eaten pictures of presunto de porco preto and the porto preto pork chop, my mouth is faster than my camera. After having eaten in Botequim da Mouraria, you will start singing simplesmente divino!

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Must eats

  • Botequim da Mouraria
    Signature dish: presunto de porco preto and porco preto pork chop

          AddressRua da Mouraria 16A, Evora 7000-585, Portugal

  • Cafe Arcadia
    Signature dish: Egg tarts

          Address: Praça do Giraldo 7, 7150-000 Évora, Portugal

Practical Tips

  • Currency: Euro (EUR)
  • Best Time to Visit: Anytime of the year
  • Getting around: Evora is a perfectly walkable city should you not mind the cobblestones that are part of the city’s charm.
  • Getting here:

Fly to Lisbon Portela airport. The best way to discover the Alentejo region is by car. The road trip from Lisbon Portela airport to Evora takes about 1 hr 16 minutes.

Fly to Lisbon Portela airport. Take a train to Lisboa Oriente. From Lisboa Oriente, connect by train to Evora. The total train journey is 2 hours and 40 min.

  • Stay at: L’and Vineyard Resort (Should you wish to stay outside Evora)

          Address: Herdade Das Valadas, Estrada Nacional 4, 7050-031 Montemor-o-Novo, Portugal

Visit http://www.l-and.com/ for further details.

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