Evora and Estremoz are two places with Elvas you must visit in Portugal. You have to dedicate at least a whole day to Evora, and Estremoz is ideal for visiting on Saturday morning when there is a flea market.
We started in Elvas on Friday, and on Saturday morning in Estremoz, we visited the antique market and walked through the village.
Then we went to Evora, where we spent an afternoon, spent the night, and took advantage of the morning to see what we were missing.
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What to See in Estremoz?
Estremoz has its origins in a medieval citadel from the 13th century. Today, there is not much left of the castle.
Its tower has been converted into a Pousada, a nice hotel you can enjoy during your trip.
Estremoz Flea Market
We started our visit “from the bottom”; that is, we started at the square where the market is held. The place where on Saturdays is held the Estremoz market is called Rossio.
Here you will be able to find a wide variety of objects, from wooden crafts and restored furniture to instruments from the Second World War.
The prices vary a lot; I would have liked to buy a restored chest, which was very well priced, about a quarter of what it would cost in Spain or France. Too bad we didn’t have room to take it with us.
After enjoying the market, we walked to the castle. It is a short walk; at most, it will be a 10-minute walk.
This whole area is wonderful and full of history. If you follow the same route as we did, you will enter through the Puerta del Sol, and shortly after, you will see the keep tower.
In this square, you can also see the Church of Santa Maria, a statue of Queen Isabel, and the Dinis Gallery. Take a look at the viewpoint and contemplate the marvelous views.
If you are on a budget and feel like spending a night in Estremoz, you can stay in the castle turned into a Pousada. If not, you can come in and gossip a little bit.
If you continue walking, you will pass by the Museu Municipal Professor Joaquim Vermelho. Then you will see a small street with a gate. Come in; there is the Chapel of Queen St. Elizabeth, the courtyard of the same name, and a beautiful viewpoint.
If you have left your car downstairs, you can return by walking on another road. Continue to the Arco de Santarém, where you can turn right and return. Or you can continue a little further, see the Porta de Evora, turn right, and return.
This is the visit we made. In Estremoz there are more things to see, museums to visit and more walks around town.
But if you don’t have more time, I think this is the minimum essential visit. If you know of other cool places, please share them in the comments!
Best Things to Do in Evora?
After visiting Estremoz, we set off for Evora, the capital of the Alentejo region. Only a 40-minute drive, about 45 km. This Portuguese city is located halfway between Lisbon and Badajoz.
Evora is a UNESCO World Heritage City. The entire city is an open-air museum.
The must-see places on your visit to Evora are located in the center of the city and are:
- the Roman Temple
- the Cathedral
- the Chapel of Bones
- the Painted Houses
- the Cadaval Palace
- the Convent of Lóios
- the Plaza de Giraldo.
The order of these visits is up to you. Pay attention to the closing time, so you don’t miss anything. The historic center of Evora is to enjoy calmly and discover the different cultures that lived there.
The Chapel of Bones
The Capela dos Ossos in Portuguese is a small chapel next to the Church of San Francisco in the historic center.
It was built in the 16th century mainly due to a lack of space in the region’s cemeteries.
These deceased had to be exhumed. A Franciscan friar who wanted to lead his brothers to contemplation and convey a message about the ephemeral nature of life decided to move them to this chapel.
Before entering the chapel you will read this message: “Nós ossos que aqui estamos pelos vossos esperamos”. Which in Spanish means: We, the bones that are here, for yours we wait.
The chapel is small, 18 meters long by 11 meters wide, and has three small windows. The walls and columns are covered with bones. It is estimated that 5,000 skeletons from the surrounding cemeteries were used for this work.
It is one of the most visited monuments in Evora. It certainly attracts the attention of travelers, and although it is very touristy, it will not leave you indifferent.
San Francisco Church
Built in Gothic-Manueline style, its decoration is closely linked to maritime discoveries. This style is unique in the world. Stay a while walking around this church to contemplate it.
In 1536 the famous Portuguese playwright Gil Vicente was buried, who often visited the Portuguese kings in the Dom Manuel Palace (see below).
Obviously, the most popular attraction of the Church of San Francisco is the Chapel of Bones.
In Portugal, it is known as the Sé de Évora, but its name is Basílica Sé de Nossa Senhora da Assunção. It is the largest medieval cathedral in Portugal and is located in the highest part of the city.
Next to other important monuments such as the Roman Temple, the Museum of Evora, or the Forum Eugenio de Almeida.
The cathedral of Evora began in 1186 and was completed in 1250. A record time for the time. It is built entirely of granite and transitions from Romanesque to Gothic Style.
Like all such ancient constructions, it underwent several changes over the centuries. The two towers are from the medieval period, one is the bell tower, and the other is the clock tower.
This cathedral is quite impressive and certainly worth a visit.
The entrance fee is 2€ for the cathedral only. But you can also visit the cloister, the museum, and the panoramic view.
The ticket price varies, but the most “expensive” is the complete ticket that includes: Cathedral + Cloister + Panoramic view + Museum: 4,50€.
Museum of Sacred Art
In the north wing of the Sé is the Museum of Sacred Art of Évora.
It gathers some precious works of art from all over Portugal, among which are the Holy Log, in gilded silver covered with precious stones, and the triptych in ivory (12th century) with scenes of the Virgin, known as the “Virgin of Paradise.”
The Roman Temple
The Roman Temple of Évora, or the Temple of Diana, is one of the best preserved Roman temples in the Iberian Peninsula.
Popular history says that this temple, dating from the beginning of the 1st century AD, was built in honor of Diana. Although it was built in homage to Emperor Augustus, venerated as a god in Roman times.
It was modified in the following two centuries, and in the 5th century, it was partially destroyed when barbarians invaded these lands.
It underwent several modifications over the centuries. For example, in the 14th century, it served as the castle’s safe; later, it became the slaughterhouse. It was restored to its original splendor in the middle of the 19th century. Its state of preservation is excellent.
Today, 14 original Corinthian columns and many capitals are still standing. You can see the podium and the staircase in Roman ruins.
The Roman Temple is a must-see in Evora, located in the city’s historical center.
The Painted Houses
The Painted Houses of Evora owe their name to the frescoes that decorate the gallery and the oratory integrated into the garden. In the 16th century, they were annexed to the Old Palace of the Inquisition to serve as housing for the judges of the Holy Office.
Stroll through the gardens and contemplate these unique paintings.
The Cadaval Palace
The Cadaval Palace has belonged to the family of the same name since the 14th century. It was built on the ruins of a Moorish castle and has undergone many modifications over the centuries. Therefore, today we can see a combination of Mudejar, Gothic and Manueline styles.
It is located in front of the Roman Temple of Évora, and inside, it has several floors, two interior gardens, and a church that is the pantheon of all the generations of the Dukes of Cadaval.
One of the towers is pentagonal in shape and was formerly part of the walls of Évora.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the palace is its halls, where you can see exhibits of armory objects, paintings, and sculptures from the XV-XVIII centuries.
In the enclosure is the church of St. John the Evangelist, built at the end of the 15th century and known by the name of Igreja dos Lóios (of the Order of Santo Eloi).
It is considered one of Portugal’s most beautiful private churches, thanks to the 18th-century hand-painted tiles covering the walls.
Walls of Évora
The walls are part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Évora and have been a Portuguese national monument since 1922.
Different fences of the walls were built over the centuries as the city grew.
The old fence, the smallest, is of Roman-medieval origin and surrounded the city when it was not yet huge. To it belonged the Porta de Dona Isabel, a Roman arch still standing.
The second wall, the new fence, was built when the city of Évora grew in the 16th century and was later renovated.
The Convent of Lóios is located between the Cathedral of Evora and the Roman Temple and very close to Giraldo Square.
This was the former monastery of San Juan Evangelista, or de los Loyos, of the congregation of canons regular.
The monastery was founded in 1487 by the first Count of Olivenza and built with the permission of King John II of Portugal on land where the Arab castle of Evora used to stand.
In 1834, the order was given to close all the monasteries and convents in Portugal, and this one remained uninhabited for a long time.
This 15th-century convent still preserves traces of its original architecture, such as the cloisters of the inner courtyard. At present, it has been converted into a Pousada. After the necessary remodeling and adaptations that were made in 1965.
It has a restaurant, bar, and swimming pool, and you can stay in the monks’ old cells (rooms).
Giraldo Square is the best known of Evora and an icon of the city. It was built between 1571 and 1573. It is dedicated to Geraldo Geraldes, “Without Fear,” who conquered Évora from the Moors in 1167.
The Praça de Giraldo took place in significant events in the history of Portugal, for example, the execution of Fernando Duque de Bragança in the 15th century or the burning of the victims of the Inquisition in the 16th century.
One of the most striking things about this square is the baroque-style marble fountain and you will see that it has a crown. According to popular history, Philip III of Spain, in 1619, understood that the fountain was worthy of being crowned.
In this square, you can also see the Church of Santo Antão (Church of St. Anthony); its construction began in 1557 by order of King Henrique and is one of the most important churches in Evora.
The interior features the São Miguel e a suas Almas panel, painted by Jeronimo Corte Real, a 16th-century artist from Évora, and the soaring Ionic columns that support the ceiling.
It was built on top of the ruins of the hermitage of São Antoninho, and a Roman triumphal arch was demolished for its construction. The current altar carved in marble comes from the hermitage.
The square, in general, attracts attention and has very striking buildings, such as the one that now houses the bank of Portugal, which was formerly related to the Inquisition.
If you go on a weekend, this square will be full of tables and chairs from the surrounding bars. Take the opportunity to have a drink and contemplate the life of Evora.
The Tourist Office is also located here.
Dom Manuel Palace
This palace is located in the Public Garden of Évora. It was built in the 15th century by Don Alfonso V as a Royal Palace.
But it was during the reign of Don Manuel when it gained splendor, the gardens were added, and the Galería de las Damas (the only part still standing today) was built.
For many years the royal families lived there on a stable basis. One of the palace’s most famous guests was the Portuguese playwright Gil Vicente.
In the middle of the 19th century, it was abandoned and partly demolished to build the Évora market.
Today it is worth taking a walk through the Jarín Público and visiting what remains of the Dom Manuel Palace, restored and registered as a National Monument.
It was created shortly after the public library in 1804. Its founder, the Archbishop of Évora Frei Manuel del Cenáculo, owned a collection of archeology and art and decided to present it there.
Among more than 20 thousand pieces, we can find paintings and sculptures from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, ceramics, typical Portuguese tiles, jewelry, and altarpieces.
Its official name is Aqueduto da Água de Prata, and it was built by order of Dom João III between 1532 and 1537 to supply water to the city’s inhabitants. The architect was Francisco de Arruda, who also designed other buildings in Évora.
The inauguration was a great event, with the king and the court present, and took place in the Plaza de Giraldo. Then, the fountain in the square was also inaugurated and later remodeled to its current state.
Over time, more fountains were added in Évora, supplied by the water carried by the aqueduct, such as Puertas de Moura, Portas de Avis, Chão das Covas and the fountain and tank of the Rossio de São Brás.
A total of 18 kilometers in length were originally constructed. It suffered several damages and was rebuilt a few times. It is now part of the list of National Monuments of Portugal since 1910.
What to See Around Evora?
Crómlech and Menhir de Los Almendros (30 minutes drive away)
If you have enough time you can go to Crómlech and menhir de Los Almendros, it is about 30 minutes by car. It is an impressive set of 95 megalithic monuments.
They are arranged in two concentric circles with some geometric markings. Nearby, there is a menhir of 3.5 meters high that is isolated.
I started this post thinking I wouldn’t get too long but in the end… Please tell me what your must-sees are in Estremoz and Évora. Leave it in the comments if you know of an excellent place to eat.
It is best to park at the old cork factory on the outskirts, but close enough to walk into the old town. By the way, you can visit it and the one next to it as well, it is a tapestry factory.
Walk along the cobblestone streets until you reach Town Hall Square, where you will find the most emblematic buildings and stores with typical cork products.
The Convent of Santa Clara and the castle (where you can enter with your dog!) are worth a visit.
This small hilltop village is one of Portugal’s most beautiful fortified villages.
Its small, steep streets, the Church of Nossa Senhora do Lago, the town hall and Pelourinho, and a former hospital housing the museum of sacred art are worth a half-day trip from Evora.
Also, located in the heart of Alentejo, it is the perfect place to taste the tasty food of the area in one of the restaurants with terraces and views.
It is a tiny village with a castle that was part of the line of defense on the border with Spain. Enclosed within a wall and with a Manueline-style church embedded, it is well worth the detour of your route.
If you are a fan of water sports, the Alqueva reservoir is just a stone’s throw away, an excellent place to be outdoors.
Another small walled town, located on top of a hill. The castle is impressive, even more so the views from the top. This village receives far fewer tourists than the others in the area.
Now you have a clear idea of what to see in and around Évora, so pack your luggage, don’t forget your travel insurance, and let’s tour! 😉
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Last Updated on 15 September, 2023 by Veronica
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Vero, a seasoned traveler, has explored 25 countries and lived in five, gaining a rich perspective and fostering an infectious passion for travel. With a heart full of wanderlust, Vero uncovers the world’s hidden gems and shares insights, tips, and planning advice to inspire and assist fellow adventurers. Join Vero and let the shared passion for travel create unforgettable memories.