Just 1h30 southeast of Lisbon, Évora is one of our favorite areas in Portugal and we love to show it. Located in the center of the Alentejo region, it has an ancient past that dates back to prehistoric times and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During a Lisbon to Évora day trip, you can have a taste of history, but also be amazed by the great outdoors. And, in the villages nearby, you can really feel Portuguese. Just reach out and join us on a private, guided and luxury car tour!
Layers of History
A few minutes before arriving in Évora, a little detour makes you travel way back in time. The Almendres Chromlech is, at least, 4000 years old. With a total of 95 stones and most of them are still on their original places. Heavily decorated with carvings, some say this archeological site is Portugal’s answer to Stonehenge.
Once occupied by the Romans, the Barbarians and the Moors, Évora was conquered by the Portuguese in 1165. Today, walking in the city center, you can still discover most of its layers of History. One of the most impressive, and one of the main reasons that lots of people have to a Lisbon to Évora day trip, is the impressive Roman Temple.
Popularly called the Temple of Diana, it was build in the first century and almost destroyed by the Barbarians, some 400 years later. In the Middle Ages, it was used as a bank vault and even a butcher’s shop! Today, this is one of the most important historic ruins in Portugal.
Glimpse of old Lisbon?
Several historians say that if you wish to see what Lisbon looked like before the devastating 1755 Great Earthquake, you should head to Évora. For several centuries, the city was favored by kings and many opulent palaces and churches were build. The city’s cathedral is the largest medieval temple in Portugal. And the Giraldo Square, with its commercial arches, renaissance buildings and marbled water fountain help to imagine the past.
Friars and spooks
“We the bones that are here, for yours we wait”. Pretty spooky, right? But this is the inscripcion that you can read at the impressive Bone Chapel, one of Évora’s most unique sites.
The city has several roman catholic temples, being one of them the Saint Francis Church. Right next to it, the Bones Chapel, or Skull Chapel, was build in the 17th century, by the franciscan friars, to send a message to the faithful: repent, because life is fleeting and fragile. In total, there are around 5000 skulls and countless bones covering the walls and pillars. The Bones Chapel is a hit on our tours, but not everybody can see it and remain calm… You have been warned.
Alqueva and Monsaraz
Stretching for 250 km2, or 250 000 ha, the Alqueva reservoir is the largest artificial lake in Europe. Fed by the Guadiana River and finished in 2002, this huge body of water has changed the landscape and even the climate in the Alentejo region and, a short drive from Évora, is definitely worth a visit.
One of our absolute favorite places to show during a Lisbon to Évora day trip is the walled village of Monsaraz. Build during the Middle Ages, on top of a steep hill, it faces the border with Spain, dominates the landscape and is one of the best spots to have a bird’s-eye view above the Alqueva.
Everything in Monsaraz helps you travel in time. From the white washed and schist houses, to the impressive castle, roaming the narrow streets is good enough to feel like a true Portuguese person of old. Oh, and just wait for the food and wine! Some of the best restaurants in the Alentejo are nearby and we cannot wait to have a great meal overlooking the Big Lake.
White towns and golden sunsets
We love what we do and we are always looking for new experiences to share with our guests. One of our latest findings are some small towns in the Évora region, mainly Mourão. Calm, authentic, off the beaten track and with very friendly people, it is a true Alentejo gem and a perfect example of the man-made white landscape this region is famous for.
One of my fondest memories of a Lisbon to Évora day trip is an amazing sunset, between Monsaraz and the banks of the Alqueva. We stopped the car and just enjoyed that golden hour, when the landscape seems to glitter. No wonder people from the Alentejo region are known for taking their time and really appreciate what they are privileged to have. For some time, we were privileged too. And the best part? Just reach out to Your Friend in Lisbon and we can do it again, with you.