An Alternative Travel Guide to Évora
May 12, 2019
by Raquel Crisóstomo
I want to share with you a treasure – Évora, the city where I spent three beautiful years of my life. Évora is like an unexpected treasure, a small city that rises surprisingly in the middle of the golden fields of High Alentejo, on the south of Portugal. The fields are gold of wheat, and Évora rises like one more wheat spike, strongly living under the sun since more than two thousand years ago. Today, this UNESCO World Heritage city is visited by an increasing number of tourists. Touristic tour guides will tell you about the roman Diana’s Temple, the Água de Prata Aqueduct, the Cathedral, the Chapel of Bones, or the Royal St. Francis Church… and I assure you all this are must see places! However, you will find easily all the information you need about it. My role, now, is to make you know some secrets that other travel guides will not tell you. Come to take an alternative tour in Évora with me!
A City Full of Art
I lived in Évora as a theatre student. The first secret I want to share, and the one that most amazed me, is the artistic and cultural offer of this small city. Scattered around the city center you can find several “windows” with posters of cultural programming. Check it out! Otherwise, follow my tips: getting to know the right places, you will find a familiar artistic circle and a rich and cheap cultural program for each day of your stay!
Évora is a city strongly linked to theatre. The Municipal Theatre Garcia de Resende is a place where you should definitely stop by – not just for the theatre plays (as the program isn’t very regular, in fact), but above all for the building itself, an amazingly conserved baroque theatre. Besides this beautiful big theatre, you can find some independent spaces with an interesting program, although not so regular. Check out Igreja de São Vicente, Casa de Bonecos or Teatro do Imaginário.
- Santo Aleixo Puppets
This puppets, known in Portuguese as Bonecos de Santo Aleixo, are very special and typical from the region of Évora. There is just one company playing in the city, and the performances are very rare. So, if you are eventually lucky enough to attend a performance, do not miss the opportunity! The plays use to happen in the Garcia de Resende Theatre, or in the Municipal Library.
Amazing news: in Évora you can find free or cheap movie sessions almost every day of the week! Here I leave you my clues of a few nice independent cultural places to check out. Firstly, Mariana Soror Auditory, with one or two good movies a week, normally for free donation. In Igreja de São Vicente there used to be also a weekly movie session for free – pass by during the day and ask about it! Finally, take a good look at Harmonia (or SHE). Here you will be asked to make a provisional associated card, and to pay 3 euros. After that, you are welcomed to show up every time you want for a month. Besides many other things, there are cinema sessions each Monday! It is totally worth it.
Visual and Plastic Arts
If you are looking for visual and plastic arts expositions, I recommend the Art and Cultural Center of Eugénio de Almeida’s Foundation (free on Sundays). You can also pass by Igreja de São Vicente, or by Museu do Relógio (the Clock’s Museum).
Find Peace in the Libraries
In Évora there are two places I particularly like for its silence, tranquillity, and beauty: the Municipal Library and the University Library in Colégio do Espírito Santo (Holy Spirit College). You are free to enter in both places and read, work, or just to find some peace, to admire the beauty of the rooms and to feel the “weight” of time, impressed on the centenary books that cover the walls. Right outside the Municipal Library, you can find the Eugénio de Almeida’s Foundation, as well as Diana’s Temple and Diana’s Garden, so this is definitely a nice place to pass by. In Colégio do Espírito Santo, you will find yourself surrounded by the university students and you might find out some of the characteristic Portuguese university traditions, which are very strong in Évora.
Discover the Municipal Market
I am a markets lover. In each new place that I visit, this is one of my favorite “corners” to discover. I just get lost on the local smells, colors, tastes, eyes, smiles, voices! So, in Évora, I must recommend you to pass by the small Municipal Market – right next to the Chapel of the Bones – where you can get delighted with the local cheeses, olives, chorizos, wine, or with local pastries. Each Saturday morning happens the fresh products weekly market, right outside the Municipal Market. This was my Saturday morning plan for three years! The fruits and vegetables are local, fresh, cheap, and bought directly to the producers.
Try the Local Gastronomy
You must try some of the small typical restaurants, scattered around the city center. Based on bread, olive oil, herbs, and pork meat, the typical dishes of Alentejo are some of my favorites among Portuguese food. My personal advice? Don’t miss “Sopa de Cação” (Dogfish Soup), “Açorda à Alentejana” and “Migas com Carne de Alguidar”. Are you Vegetarian? No problem! Find delicious veggie versions of Alentejo cuisine on the restaurant Salsa Verde. To finish a good meal, or to have a nice snack, I recommend you to try the local pastry. Based on eggs, almonds, and pumpkin, amazing pastries were created in Alentejo! Try “Pão de Rala”, “Sericaia”, “Toucinho do Céu”, “Queijinhos do Céu”… Believe me, it is highly sweet and crazily good. “Pastéis de Nata”? Those well-known Portuguese pastries are mainly from Lisbon’s region. However, I must admit that the best “pastéis de nata” I have ever tried are served in Évora, in Fábrica dos Pastéis. After all, from traveler to traveler, I must recommend you to pass by Art Café and to meet João Pedro, the owner. He is an old traveler himself with great stories to tell, as well as an awesome and passionate cook, with the best chocolate bombastic dessert I’ve ever eaten!
Don’t miss the Alentejo Wine!
The Portuguese wine is well-known for its quality, and the wine of the Douro region, in the north, is especially famous. Although less well known, Alentejo is also a major producer of quality wines. My advice? Enter a supermarket and find amazing Alentejo wine bottles for a very cheap prize!
A Calm Afternoon and an Astonishing Sunset
So, do you have your wine bottle already? Or maybe some beers, or just a small picnic and the will to spend a relaxed time? Go to the Public Garden (Jardim Público), sit on the grass and just enjoy the afternoon. If you feel like watching the sunset, I recommend you to go to Diana’s Garden, or to the Coffee Shop, in Paço de São Miguel – both places offer you amazing views on the city rooftops and the Alentejo immense golden plains. However, the best sunset can be seen from the “Alto de São Bento”. This is an amazingly beautiful place, three kilometers away from the city center, following the direction of the Aqueduct. Ask some indications on the Tourism Centre about how to get there, take your walking shoes and a bottle of water, and enjoy the way!
Harmonia – my definitive night getaway selection
Harmonia is a very well known place between the artistic and alternative community in Évora. It is a society in an amazing old building, right in the city center, in Praça do Giraldo. Become a temporary associate for one month (paying just three euros) and enter to have a beer and enjoy the great program! There are cinema sessions, talks, workshops, performances, and really good concerts. This place might surprise you. It is definitely my choice for a nice night getaway.
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May 17, 2019
I\'ve loved this amazingly personal view over Evora, a place where I lived during one year, more than two decades ago.
This reading provided me a very pleasant and different vision about this lovely and sunny city, highlighting some well known experiences and providing several other new.
Thanks a lot for it!
May 31, 2019
Muito bom! Gostei muito desta apresentação de Evora. Depois desta descrição não há como não aceitar este convite para visitar Evora. A gastronomia aqui recomendada deixa-nos, sem dúvida, vontade de ir e degustar a tao variada oferta.
Bem haja pela maravilhosa apresentação de Evora.