This tour is for travelers that enjoy history but want to see something different to the usual tourist spots in Lisbon and Sintra. This private 7-hour tour to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Évora will show you another side of Portugal’s rich history. With more than 2000 years of history, it was one of the most important cities in Portugal´s history. It flourished as a symbol of learning and arts.
This tour is designed for history lovers and will show you the city’s varied collection of historic landmarks. After relaxing on the trip (1 hour 30 minutes) from Lisbon to Évora, you reach this UNESCO World Heritage city. You'll be transported back to Roman times, then past the Moorish occupations, all the way through the middle ages, and then back to today's Portugal.
This town should not be mistaken for a lost old relic reliant of its glorious past. This city is young and vibrant, having a population of about 57.000 people, having large student population attending one of the oldest universities in the world.
We start the tour at the "Porta de Avis" gate. The first references to the “Porta de Avis”, dates back to 1381. In 1804, this entrance gate underwent a restoration and consolidation intervention. After entering this gate, you will see on your left side the original medieval entry gate. You are now inside the city of Évora, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 25th November 1986.
The aqueduct is called “Aqueduto da Água de Prata” (silver water aqueduct) because of two probable reasons: The first being the silver appearance of the running water under the summer sun. The second, in regards to the enormous construction cost that nearly bankrupted the regional government.
Ordered by our King D. João 3rd, construction started 1531, being inaugurated on the 28th of March 1537. The aqueduct is 18 km (11.5 miles) long, running from the Convent São Bento de Castris, to Évora´s city centre, near the Praça do Giraldo (Square). This resulted in developing even more the city by construction of houses, shops and cafés.
Let´s come and explore Evorá´s secrets.
This Palace, today Évora´s City Hall, is not only the stage of political activities but also for discovering the history and architecture inviting you to enter.
In 1987, in an attempt to create a bar for employees in the Archives that occupied a room on the ground floor, archaeological remains of Roman baths were discovered.
These Roman Baths were built between the 2nd and 3rd centuries, being the public baths of the city at the time. Many more curiosities will be revealed about Évorá´s history.
Most people call this temple the “Tempe, of Diana”, after the ancient Roman goddess of the moon, hunting, and chastity. However, it´s totally wrong!
Built in the roman main public square, The Forum, it was constructed around the 1st century A.D. in honour of Emperor Augustus, who was venerated as a god during his rule. The temple may have been abandoned in the 4th century, a period when part of the Roman religious buildings in Hispania began to lose their importance due to the advance of Christianity. What other stories are misleading?
Sadly, this subject has an endless amount to talk about, as the Holy inquisition was established in 1536 and only extinguished in 1821.
In this former Évora Palace, the inquisitors persecuted and sentenced to death, for 285 years, thousands of new Christians (Jewish community) and people denounced as heretics, “relapses”, sorcerers, witches, prostitutes, bigamists and atheists.
Mainly built between 1280 and 1340, it is one of the most important and largest gothic medieval cathedral of Portugal. The cathedral has a notable main portal with statues of the Apostles (around 1335) and a beautiful nave and cloister. You will enter the famous Sé Cathedral. Your guide will show you the cloister, basilica and then you will go all the way up, to the rooftop to have a fantastic birds-eye-view over the whole city.
Since its construction, in 1571/1573, all streets in Evora, lead to the Giraldo Square, Praça do Giraldo in Portuguese.
The square is a tribute to the Fearless Geraldo, Geraldo Geraldes who conquered Évora from the Moors in 1167. To thank him, our first Portuguese King, D. Afonso Henriques, nominated him Alcaide (Governor) of Évora and Protector of the Borders of Alentejo. The square was named Portuguese National Monument in 1910.
Also a great place to relax and have a drink or make some local traditional shopping.
Then you will explore the “creepy” Bone Chapel, with its carefully arranged skulls and bones of about 5000 people that cover the walls and columns. It is supposed to make visitors reflect on the inevitable facts of life and death. Make sure you look up at the inscription on the entrance, which reads: “We bones that here are, await for yours.”
As well as the above sites, you’ll also have the chance to stroll along the city’s and discover the Graça Church, the Palace of Dom Manuel or Royal Palace of Évora (Palácio de Dom Manuel), the Fake Ruins and many other details of this city and the local way of life.
Not to forget, you should try some of the simple local gastronomic specialties if you get hungry. At the end of the tour, you’ll be driven back to Lisbon.
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