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Évora, the capital of the Alentejo region, is a picturesque, medium-sized city with more than its share of things to see and do. An important town as far back as Roman times, the town’s most recognizable landmark is the Temple of Diana, which may be a misnomer (some believe the temple was dedicated to the Cult of Augustus). There are other reminders of Roman rule around, such as remnants of fortifications and baths. The city fell first to the Visigoths and then to the Moors before Christian Portuguese conquered it in 1165.

Évora was a very important town under the Portuguese. Members of the Royal Family visited frequently, and they ordered the construction of palaces, monuments and convents and cathedrals. Several important royal weddings took place in Évora. During the Renaissance, the city was a center for Portuguese art and culture. It was during this time that the famous Bone Chapel, or Capela dos Ossos, was constructed.

Today, Évora is a pleasant provincial town, regularly voted by the Portuguese themselves as one of the best places to live in their country. The main square, Praça do Giraldo, was once where the Inquisition burned heretics, but now it’s an airy, pleasant place full of shops and cafes. From there, the tourist-friendly Rua 5 de Outubro winds its way up to the ruined temple and the Loios Convent, now a fancy inn.

Cork is hugely important to the economy of Portugal, and the Alentejo is where all of the cork comes from. As you wander in and out of the tourist stores in Évora, you’ll notice that more is made out of cork than you ever thought possible. Some things make sense: bottle stoppers, pot holders or small message boards, but other things, such as cork purses and even clothing seem a bit odd.

There is enough to see and do in Évora for a couple of whole days. If you wish to stay for a while, there is good lodging in Évora as well as good places to eat.

By Christopher Minster
I am a writer and editor at V!VA Travel guides here in Quito, where I specialize in adding quality content to the site and also in spooky things like...
26 Oct 2007

Things to do in Evora

Bone Chapel (Capela dos Ossos)

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Historical Building
Evora, Portugal
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