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June, 2015

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Evora is the capital of the Alentejo region of Portugal. It is an UNESCO World Heritage site , due to its well preserved old town centre, enclosed by medieval walls, and its monuments and architecture from various periods. Architecture survives from Roman times, a well preserved temple. There is Moorish influence, but the Moors were driven out in the middle of the 12th century and the buildings were adapted for Christian use. An aquaduct dates to the 16th century. There are various churches, including an impressive cathedral with cloister. There is a small charge to enter the cathedral, but worth it for a cool place to sit. The chapel of the bones is worth a visit, in the church of St Francis. Its interior is covered with human bones, very macabre! As well as churches, there are several museums to visit. Main streets lead to the central square with its fountain fed from the aqueduct. There are café tables with parasols to sit in the shade and watch the world go by. In the square is the tourist office, but no information leaflets in English, despite the fact English is widely understood. The assistant spoke English and gave us a street map with the advice to explore!

A network of narrow streets were mainly at right angles from the main streets, and the buildings white with deep yellow details, and some tiles. Shops were small and utilitarian, or boutique style, with one street specialising in tourist items – pottery, cork, leather goods, postcards and other small souvenirs.

The most important feature of Evora, after the architecture, is cobbles. Some were old and irregular, some modern, but covering almost all surfaces of the roads and pavements. One footpath had modern paving slabs, a route we regularly took! There was a land train which we took for a city tour and it was extremely jolty. We caught glimpses of an interesting city tourist bus, which had recently started to run. There were bus stops, but neither the tourist information or our hotel could tell us the timetable. The only information was that it ran every hour. We declined to wait in the sun for an hour for one to turn up! By now, I think it will have stopped running through lack of use, or someone will realise they need timetables as well as bus stops! Because of the cobbles, the city is best explored on foot, and would be impossible for wheelchair use.

We stayed for a week at the hotel M’AR De AR Aqueduto (“see separate review”:http://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/review?id=156887). The weather was very hot and our pace was slow, so we explored the city a little at a time. We did not hire a car, but went on a trip with a local tour company organised by our hotel, a half day visit to a nearby hill village and pottery outlets. We had an English speaking guide, so it was a very interesting excursion. I think younger, fitter people might find Evora could be explored in several days, and a car would be useful for exploring the wider area.


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