This tour leads us to the heart of Alentejo, to a city that is surrounded by walls classified as cultural heritage for humanity - Évora. When exploring the narrow streets of the city, one feels as if going back in time, crossing several centuries of History and getting to know the most diverse cultures who populated that region and influenced its architectural diversity. From the conquest of the city by the Romans, there are some trace elements such as the ruins of the therms, currently located under the Town Hall building. The Moors and Visigoths also inhabited this city but few remains can be seen.
The monuments and palaces that are part of Évora’s current landscape were built after the Christians reconquered the city and it became the heart of the court. Évora was thereafter enriched by D. João II and D. Manuel during the 15th and 16th centuries. Its main landmark is the Roman Temple dating from the end of the 2nd century, and still today, the majestic Estremoz marble pillars are kept intact. Its beauty extends through the garden and to the walls of the city from where one can enjoy a breathtaking landscape over Alentejo endless plains.
Other remarkable monuments include the Sé de Évora, a Church dating back from the end of the 15th century with its imposing gothic portico, which hosts the valuable Sacred Art Museum and the former palace of the Inquisitors (1536). In the latter, one can see some of the weapons used during this period of persecution which, in this city alone, convicted more than 22 thousand people to death.
Before lunch, there will still be time to visit the Bones Chapel in the Church of St. Francis. Built in the 19th century, this chapel was originally a dormitory and a room for reflection for the friars who then transformed it into a location which represents human fragility. In both Baroque and Renaissance style, the walls and the eight pillars that hold the chapel are covered with human bones and skulls and decorated with bricks to respect death. Here, some 5000 human skulls can be found from the Church's graves, the convent and the city's cemeteries.
If you still feel like having lunch after visiting this place, this is when we take a break just before embarking in a much more pleasant visit, leading us to learn more about one of the region's strongest assets – the wineries. Évora’s gastronomy is extremely rich. Pork, lamb and bread are often served at every restaurant traditionally having the açorda à alentejana (bread is the key ingredient), lamb stew or sopa de cação (fish soup). When visiting the wineries and vineyards it is likely that a wine taste is complemented with bread, olive oil, olives and cheese from Évora and its surroundings.
Being extremely important for the region, there is a say about the wine industry: a white Alentejo wine is often a good confidant, a red wine a good adviser, and a rosé wine is just pure pleasure.
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