When people think of Portugal, the first cities that come to mind are Lisbon and Porto, but Evora should not be forgotten. Located only an hour and a half from Lisbon, Evora is the capital of the Alentejo region known for its wine and food. With such an array of activities, I put together all of the free things to do in Evora.
The main square in Evora is called Giraldo Square. It’s surrounded by a church, restaurants, cafes, tourism office, banks, stores, and more. It’s the perfect place for people to watch and get a sense for life in Evora.
During the mornings you’ll see more of the elderly residents of Evora getting their morning coffee and enjoying their breakfasts. In the afternoons, you’ll see families, tourists, and couples having a stroll and grabbing some lunch. The evenings have lots of young adults hanging out.
Right next to Giraldo Square is this fountain. It’s said to have been built when the aqueduct was rebuilt. There are human-like heads that serve as the spouts. When I’ve walked by I haven’t seen any water, but the fountain itself does look restored.
The Templo Diana is one of the iconic places to see in Evora. When I first saw a photo of this city, this was the place that caught my eye. It felt like something out of Greece, a place I have yet to go to. They’re ruins of a 1st century Roman temple. So it’s outside next to the Diana Gardens. You can’t go on or in it as it’s roped off. Definitely worth visiting on your visit to Evora.
Diana Gardens and Viewpoint
The Diana Gardens give you a great view over the old part of the city. There’s also a stone that’s supposed to represent two people kissing. The views from here are spectacular and if it’s a clear evening, then a perfect spot to watch the sunset. There’s a little kiosk selling snacks, beer, and coffee. Evora’s kiosks tend to not accept credit cards, so bring cash.
Located in the same square as the Roman Temple and the Diana Gardens is Evora’s Public Library. On the second floor you’ll find a collection of old and rare books housed in beautiful bookshelves. From the windows you can overlook the Temple, gardens, and the little plaza. Evora’s public library is a great place to do work as they provide free WiFi on the second floor as well as tables, lamps, and outlets.
The Renaissance-style Aqueduct in Evora is impressive and definitely worth your time to visit. There are a few different spots where you can see it. To see it in its full glory, you need to go outside the historic center in the Northwestern part near the Old Lagoon Gate (Porta Velha da Lagoa). From here you’ll be able to see how far the aqueduct extends, which is actually 11 miles or 18 km. It was first erected in 1532 to provide clean drinking water to the residents of Evora.
In the historic part of the city, the aqueduct actually acts as the frame or part of the front of the house. They really integrated it into the architecture of some houses. The outcome is beautiful and I love walking by as often as I can to enjoy it. There are two spots that I’ve found where you can enjoy it. The first is a couple blocks from Giraldo Square on Rua do Salvador. The second is on Rua do Cano near the taller parts of the Aqueduct on the outer part of town in the northwest area.
In the south part of the historic center is the Public Garden. Inside you can find a red Evora sign, a little natural pool for the ducks, peacocks, and “feigned ruins”. Behind the ruins is a path that leads to what looks like the top of a fortress overlooking the outskirts of the city walls. There are little watchtowers in the corners that at one point must have had guards. Be warned that the insides of them do smell a bit like urine.
Ruinas Fingidas (Feigned Ruins)
When I first saw this I assumed it meant they were fake ruins. In a way they kind of are since they’re not real in the sense that they didn’t used to be its own building or structure. They’re pieces combined from other ruins put together in a beautiful, romantic, and nostalgic way.
If you arrive by bus to the station, you’ll either walk by or drive by the cemetery. The trees at the entrance make for a dramatic entrance. You’ll find lots of unique gravestones during your walk.
Dona Isabel Roman Arch
This arch is part of the Aqueduct and one that cars pass under. Located just two blocks from the Diana Gardens, it’s a great architectural spot to enjoy. Aside from the arch there isn’t much else here so it will not be a long stop.
Right in Giraldo Square is the tourism office where you can get all the info you need for this beautiful city and its surroundings. They can provide maps, suggestions, and more. You can buy souvenirs there as well.
Visiting other Portuguese cities?
Since I’m living in Evora for the time being (September 2023), I’ll be sharing more about this city and other cities in Portugal. Stay tuned to this page where you’ll see more posts that go live about Portugal.
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