Wines & Roman temple
Do you enjoy wine? Do you like Roman ruins? If so, do continue reading about my day trip to Portuguese town of Évora.
During our week in Lisbon we took two organized day trips. Since it was our honeymoon I didn’t really want to spend hours and hours like I usually do trying to find the best way to get to a certain place, making our sightseeing plan and doing all the other travel-related planning. One day trip was to Sintra region and for another I chose Évora. Why that town you might ask? Well, I’ve got this book called 501 must-visit cities which I got for my graduation from my BFF and I often flick through it and so in Portugal section I saw a photo of a big Roman temple and read about university town of Évora. So the decision was made to visit it while in Lisbon.
The tour company picked us up in front of our hotel. I was very pleased with the tour guide on our day trip to Sintra but this wasn’t the case on this trip even though both of the trips were organized by the same agency. The old gentleman who had to explain everything in multiple languages to our versatile group was however very strict and ununderstanding of the needs of his group. Nevertheless I didn’t let that ruin our day trip.
We arrived to Évora in about an hour and a quarter and were greeted by clouds and an intermittent rain. The first thing we saw were the remains of the medieval city wall and then we left the bus at the University building. Evora University is actually the second oldest university in Portugal since it was founded in 1559. I have a thing for university cities such as Cambridge and Bologna so I was pleased to start the sightseeing of Evora by a quick walk around its main university building.
We proceeded on foot and soon I felt like I was in a scene from a Mexican soap opera even though I’ve never been to Mexico. The white-washed houses on the streets really looked like something I had seen on TV. The only thing missing were men wearing sombrero and possibly carrying a machine gun too. Sorry for the prejudice but that’s how it looked like to me 🙂 The streets were half-empty and wherever you looked you saw beautiful historical buildings and monuments. Well, Evora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We walked across a small square with an unusual fountain in the shape of a globe (Fonte das Portas de Moura). However the first thing I noticed was the name of the shop at the square: Rape. I don’t know what that means in Portuguese but the name is very unfortunate.
We passed by the court-house and a palace or two and came to the Chapel of Bones (Capela dos Ossos) in St.Francis church. The entire chapel is covered with human bones. Yes, you are surrounded by bones of a lot of dead people. Not very romantic!But it wasn’t creepy really. I took a few surreptitious photos since they charged for taking the photos. I don’t like that. We paid for the entrance so why should we pay for the photos too? After this unusual chapel the guide led us to the main square Praça do Giraldo. There’s an interesting fountain and a church of Santo Antão. This is where you’ll find the Tourist Office too. We wandered around for a bit and did a bit of window shopping. There wasn’t time to do much else because our guide grudgingly let us have this short free time.
We still haven’t seen the highlights of this history-infused city: the cathedral and the Roman Temple of Diana. So after the short break we went to explore those two major sites. They are right next to each other. The cathedral is said to be the biggest in whole of Portugal. It’s Gothic in style and inside it you can see the only pregnant statue of Virgin Mary.
Then we admired the well-preserved Roman Temple wrongly referred to as the Temple of Diana (Roman goddess of the moon, the hunt and the chastity). The temple was actually devoted to emperor Augustus who was worshiped as a God and it was built around the first century. The wrong name derives from a legend from the 17th century. The temple is at the square surrounded by the Palace of the Inquisitor, Palace of the Dukes of Cadaval, the Court of the Inquisition and, the Church and Lóios’ Convent, as well as the Public Library and Museum of Évora. This is where we had our lunch which was included in the price of the tour.
After the lunch our visit of Évora finished and we went back to the bus to go to the best known winery in Alentejo wine region. We visited Herdade do Esporão winery for a tour of its cellars and a wine degustation. The cellars were huge and impressive but also damp and cold as cellars usually are. It wasn’t my first visit to the wine cellars. I’ve been inside wine cellars in Maribor, Slovenia and in several places in Tuscany. Afterwards we tried their dry white wine. It was excellent. But for a wine degustation we didn’t drink that much wine really. There was more food on the plates (yummy sausages and salami) then wine for us to try.
Anyway, my husband and I decided to buy a few bottles of their white wine and rosé. They were very affordable and of excellent quality. Somehow I forgot that you can’t actually carry that many wine bottles back to your country.I manged to wrap them in my clothes in the suitcase and they survived the flight but I was terrified at the customs. Luckily, we passed through the customs without the hitch ( we also had a bottle of porto).
The drive back offered nice views of vineyards and Portuguese countryside. The day wasn’t sunny and the guide wasn’t that great but we still enjoyed our day in beautiful Évora.
Date of trip: Sep 2014
Have you been to Évora? Have you read my posts about Lisbon?
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