Alternately a Roman mercantile center, a Moorish capital, the seat of the medieval Portuguese royal court, and a well-to-do 18th-century trade hub, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Évora embodies Iberia’s history between its whitewashed walls and terracotta rooftops.
Though not as well-known in popular culture as other regions, Alentejo is home to a number of impressive archaeological sites, including the Almendres megalithic site, the largest megalithic monument in the Iberian Peninsula and one of the oldest manmade monuments in Europe, predating Stonehenge by 2,000 years.
The hills of Alentejo are filled with tiny fortified towns as picturesque and idyllic as Évora, their cobbled streets, medieval churches, and tree-lined squares awaiting exploration. One of the most compelling is Arraiolos, the historic center of Portuguese weaving. Admire its famous tapestries and carpets, visit the 14th-century castle, then relax at a family-run cafe over a glass of vinho verde.
A tiny chapel off of Évora’s imposing Church of Saint Francis, in the town’s picturesque historic center, the Capela dos Ossos – or, Chapel of Bones – was built in the 16th century. The local Franciscan monks – concerned for the souls of the wealthy residents of Évora, and finding themselves with valuable land being used as cemeteries – created the catacombs-like church as a reminder of mortality.
The Douro Valley may be Portugal’s best-known wine region, but Alentejo isn’t far behind, and renowned local winery Herdade do Esporão is a large reason why. Acres of vines spread out from a white-washed, 15th-century tower, where a cellar holds aging barrels of award-winning Trincadeira, Aragonez, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Visit the winery as part of a day of wine-tasting, and be sure to book tastings and tours of the estate in advance.
Travel back in time with a stroll down this picturesque shopping street in the heart of historic Évora. From carved wooden spoons to baskets made of cork and wicker, from intricate ironwork to clay plates painted with rings of golden leaves, traditional handicrafts fill the shops that line this pedestrian passage.
Sample the best of Évora’s traditional cuisine through this year-long celebration of the city’s culinary history, a collaboration between 24 restaurants and bakeries.
Evora’s biggest festival transforms the city into a 10-day celebration of music, art and dance performances, parades, creative and cultural workshops, and more.
Masters of classical music from cultures around the world perform at this renowned, multi-week festival hosted by the Palacio Cadaval, in its elegant gardens and palace halls.
Hosted in conjunction with the University of Evora, this acclaimed short film festival attracts submissions from around the globe for a several-day celebration of cinema.
This festival hosted by the Contemporary Dance Company of Evora includes both contemporary dance performances and educational workshops, including classes and panels.
Discover the dark history of the Portuguese Inquisition at this collaborative exhibition between the Museu de Evora and the Evora Public Library.Learn More
“While in Alentejo, be sure to hear a performance of “Cante Alentejano”, a kind of choral music indigenous to the region that has been designated an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Performed by amateur choral groups throughout southern Portugal, this traditional polyphonic singing is characterized by distinctive melodies, lyrics, and vocal styles, and is performed without instruments.”
Wander the halls and courtyards of the painstakingly restored 15th-century convent, built to commemorate the legend of an apparition of the Virgin Mary above a thorn bush (espinheiro).Learn More
Participate in Evora's renowned culinary tradition with gastronomy courses, like bread-baking classes that use the oven used by the convent's monks until the 19th century.Learn More
Start each day with a stroll through 20 acres of fragrant, manicured gardens, which include olive groves for the hotel's house-made olive oil.Learn More