Evora, Portugal

View of Évora rooftops from the cathedral. Photo Creative Commons License Phillip Capper.

Évora is a city of about 50,000 people in southern Portugal, located 70 miles E of Lisbon. The religious, historical and architectural importance of Évora's historic center earned it World Heritage status in 1986. This region has been settled since prehistoric times - megaliths from 4,000 BC can be seen a few miles outside the city. In 80 BC, the Roman city of Liberalitas Julia was founded here. Later, Évora was ruled by the Visigoths, the Moors (from 715), and Catholic kings (from 1166). It became a favored base for the court of the Kingdom of Portugal. The Jesuits were active here from the 16th to 18th centuries and Évora's university was an important center of learning. Today, the walled town of Évora contains many sites of religious interest in a full range of architectural styles (Roman, Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, Renaissance, Baroque), reflecting its rich history. You can even sleep in a historical religious site: many of Évora's hotels are former convents.

São João Evangelista
This 15th-century church overlooking a Roman temple has a number of interesting features, including 18th-century tiles and an Arabian cistern. The convent is has been transformed into a hotel.
Capela Dos Ossos (Bone Chapel)
Part of a Franciscan church, the remarkable Chapel of Bones was lined with human bones and skulls in the 16th century as a reminder of immortality.
Templo de Diana (Roman Temple)
Located in the city center, this 1st-century Roman temple with delicate Corinthian columns remains remarkably intact.
Almendres Cromlech
Boasting a spectacular hillside location among olive and cork trees, this stone circle is the most important megalithic site in Portugal. Its 96 standing stones were arranged in an oval in 5000-4000 BC.
Evora Cathedral
This bulky, Romanesque-Gothic cathedral is notable for its impressive medieval architecture, Gothic apostle statues, fine cloister, and rich treasury.