Evora – Alentejo, Portugal
An Open-Air Museum of Portuguese Architecture
Each age has left its trace on Evora. Today it is protected as a national treasure. A panoply of mansions and palaces whose architecture ranges from medieval to the local Gothic-to-Renaissance transitional style called Manueline to the Renaissance, Evora is especially evocative when floodlit at night. Although it has been compared to Florence and Seville, the town is wonderfully Portuguese, with Moorish overtones in its pierced balconies, attractive whitewashed homes, and cool tiled patios.
When the Moors were ousted in the 12th century after 450 fruitful years in residence, Evora became a favored destination of the kings of Portugal and flourished as a center of learning and the arts in the 15th and 16th centuries, after which it lapsed into obscurity.
The core of the Old City within the medieval walls contains most of the places of interest, including the Gothic cathedral and the 16th-century Church of dos Loios, dedicated to Sao Joao and famous for its azulejos, the traditional hand-painted blue-and-white tiles of Portugal.
Adjacent to the church, and next to the ruins of a 2nd-century Roman temple dedicated to Diana, is a former 15th- century baronial mansion (later the Convent of dos Ldios) that is now the Pousada dos Loios.
Following in the footsteps of the monks who offered hospitality to many a passing monarch, it is now one of Portugal’s more luxurious state-owned inns. The former refectory serves as the dining room, but hope for pleasant weather, when meals can be enjoyed in the vaulted cloister.