Evora – a glimpse into Portugal's golden age

South of Lisbon and the Targus River lies a region of great plains known as the Alentejo Province. In the central part of this region lies the historic town of Evora. With a population of 50,000 in 2006, Evora is a city looking to the future, but whose city center is so well preserved that it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Evora has historical monuments dating back 2000 years, and its well-preserved monuments represent many different historical periods. A large part of the old city walls are still intact, and inside these city walls, there are no less than 4,000 monuments of different interest, including doors, palaces, churches, squares and more, representing styles ranging from Roman to Visigoth and Moorish and beyond.

Situated at the top of a hill, the Gothic cathedral of Evora dates back to the 13th century with additions to the 14th century. The Gothic Church of Sao Joao Evangelista is near the cathedral and is an impressive building, having been founded in 1485. Be sure to check out the beautiful hand-painted tiles in the nave.

Another wonderful monument in Evora is the Palace of Vasco da Gama. Its cloister is in Manueline style and the murals are clearly Renaissance. The University of Evora, which started as a Jesuit college in 1551, is also not to be missed. The Jesuits were expelled in the 18th century, but beautiful monuments remain, notably the cloister of the 17th and 18th centuries and the Mannerist church of the 16th century.

Dominating the center of the city is the most famous monument of Evora, the ruins of the Roman temple of Evora dating from the first century. Illustrating the longevity of the monuments of Evora, there are fourteen granite columns still standing after 2000 years.

Overall, Evora is the best intact example of what was "the golden age" of Portugal.