To understand Portugal’s past, you should take a trip to Évora. The capital of the Alentejo region is home to many historical gems, from megalithic sites and Roman ruins to medieval churches and palaces. Step inside the city walls and get lost between the winding cobblestone streets.
Beyond its historical heritage, there is also a lively student community and a rich culinary scene. Évora is the perfect base to explore Alentejo’s wineries and stunning rural towns.
The Templo Romano is one of the city’s most important landmarks. This Roman temple dates back to the 1st century B.C. For a while, it served as the city’s butcher, and it was only in the 19th century that locals knocked down the walls and brought it back to its current state.
Évora's Templo Romano
Nearby is the Palácio Cadaval, a 14th-century palace that belongs to the Cadaval family. The palace often hosts temporary exhibits, but it’s the attached church, Igreja dos Lóios that gets the most attention with its blue-and-white tiles covering the walls from top to bottom.
Another church that deserves a visit is the Catedral de Évora. This Gothic cathedral stands out with its fortress-like structure and pointy spires visible across the city. Make sure to climb up to the rooftop for the panoramic views.
There’s also the Igreja de São Francisco, built around the 16th century. Most people come here to see the Capela dos Ossos, a chilling chapel covered with the skulls and bones of thousands of monks. Notice the message by the door “We bones that are here await yours” — a reminder that life is ephemerous.
Finally, make sure to stop by the Colégio do Espírito Santo. This is Évora’s main university building. The original institution was founded in 1559 as a Jesuit college. Unfortunately, it closed down when the Jesuits got persecuted by Marquês de Pombal in 1759. Visitors can see the Renaissance cloisters and admire the stunning azulejo (tile) work.
Évora’s Museums & Art Galleries
The Museu de Évora holds many of the region’s archaeological finds, with items dating back to the Neolithic period. You’ll also encounter Roman and Islamic remains, alongside Flemish paintings.
Meanwhile, the Centro de Arte e Cultura hosts small exhibits on contemporary art. It’s worth heading here to see the Casas Pintadas, a set of fresco walls with mythical figures hidden in the gallery’s outdoor patio.
Around Évora, you’ll find many megalithic sites. The most famous one is the Cromeleque dos Almendres, a large cromlech with more than 90 granite standing stones in a horseshoe shape.
Ebora Megalithica offers guided tours of the area, passing through the Menhir dos Almendres and the Anta Grande do Zambujeiro, one of Europe’s largest dolmens.
Shopping in Évora
Rua 5 de Outubro is the city’s main shopping street. Walking around here, you’ll find several craft shops selling anything from ceramics to cork-based items, a material that is commonly found in this part of Portugal.
Where to eat in Évora
- Taberna Tipica Quarta Feira: At this cozy tavern, there’s no fixed menu. Trust the staff as they bring you an array of dishes, which may include things like Iberian black pork stew or fish soup.
- Hibrido: Set near Praça do Giraldo, Hibrido is bringing back old Portuguese recipes and giving them a modern twist. Try a mix of things and make sure to leave room for dessert.
- Tua Madre: Italy meets Portugal at this local restaurant combining risottos and pasta with Alentejo ingredients.
- O Fialho: Open in 1986, this family-run restaurant is a classic for traditional Alentejo cuisine.
- Café da Arcada: One of the city’s oldest cafés, which has recently been renovated. Come here to sample traditional treats like queijadas (sweet cheese tart) or empadas (savory tarts).
- Pastelaria Conventual Pão de Rala: This pastry shop specializes in conventual sweets from the Alentejo. Try the pão de rala or the queijinhos do céu, both made with a mix of almond, sugar and egg yolks.
Wine tasting in Évora
- Adega Cartuxa: Named after the nearby Cartuxa monastery, this winery serves the classic Pêra-Manca wine. They have a restaurant in the center of Évora, but the vineyards are on the outskirts of the city.
- Fitapreta: Winemaker António Maçanita and his wife, Alexandra Leroy, run this charming winery set around a medieval palace. Maçanita has made it his mission to bring back long-lost grapes, such as Alicante Branco and Tamarez, to the Alentejo wine scene.
- Rota dos Vinhos do Alentejo: The headquarters of the Alentejo Wine Route is located on Rua 5 de Outubro. It’s worth stopping by for a wine tasting or to learn about the nearby wineries.
- Casa Relvas: The Relvas family has three estates, including one in Évora. The granite soil here results in fresh and fruity wines.