Évora is a city and a municipality in Portugal. The city proper has 41,159 inhabitants, and the municipality has a total area of 1,307.0 km² with a population of 55,619 inhabitants. It is the seat of the district of Évora and capital of the Alentejo region. The municipality is composed of 19 civil parishes, and is located in the District of Évora.
The present Mayor is José Ernesto Oliveira of the Socialist Party. The municipal holiday is June 29.
Évora is ranked number 3 in the Portuguese most livable cities survey of living conditions published yearly by Expresso. It was ranked first in a study concerning competitiveness of the 18 Portuguese district capitals, according to a 2006 study made by Minho University economic researchers.
Due to its well-preserved old town centre, still partially enclosed by medieval walls, and a large number of monuments dating from various historical periods, including a Roman Temple, Évora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Évora (latitude 38.33º, longitude 7º57', altitude 300 m) is situated in Alentejo (southern Portugal). It is the chief city of the district. The seat of the municipality is the city of Évora, composed by the civil parishes
of Santo Antão, São Mamede and Sé e São Pedro in the historical centre and the urban parishes of Bacelo, Horta das Figueiras, Malagueira and Senhora da Saúde outside the ancient city walls where most of the population in fact reside. The remaining civil parishes in the municipality are rural or suburban and do not form part of the city for statistic purposes.
Province is a region of wide plains to the south of the Tagus River
, in Portuguese
). In the heart of this region, at a distance of 130 km from Lisbon
, lies the city of Évora.
Évora has a history dating back more than two millennia. It may have been the kingdom of Astolpas. , and may be named after ivory workers. It was known as Ebora by the Lusitanians, who made the town their regional capital. The Romans conquered the town in 57 B.C. and expanded it into a walled town. Vestiges from this period (city walls and ruins of Roman baths) still remain. The Romans had extensive gold mining in Portugal, and the name may be derived from that oro, aurum, gold). Julius Caesar called it "Liberalitas Julia" (Julian generosity). The city grew in importance because it lay at the junction of several important routes. During his travels through Gaul and Lusitania, Pliny the Elder also visited this town and mentioned it in his book Naturalis Historia as Ebora Cerealis, because of its many surrounding wheat fields. In those days Évora became a flourishing city. Its high rank among municipalities in Roman Hispania is clearly shown by many inscriptions and coins. The monumental Corinthian temple in the centre of the town dates from the 1st century and was probably erected in honour of emperor Augustus. In the fourth century, the town had already a bishop, named Quintianus.
During the barbarian invasions, Evora came under the rule of the Visigothic king Leovirgild in 584. The town was later raised to the status of a cathedral city. Nevertheless this was a time of decline and very few artefacts from this period remain.
In 715, the city was conquered by Moors under Tariq ibn-Ziyad who called it Yeborah. During their rule (715-1165) the town slowly began to prosper again and developed into an agricultural centre with a fortress and a mosque. The present character of the city is evidence of the moorish influence.
Évora was wrested from the Moors through a surprise attack by Gerald the Fearless (Geraldo Sem Pavor) in September 1165. The town came under the rule of the Portuguese king Afonso I in 1166. It then flourished as one of the most dynamic cities in the Kingdom of Portugal during the Middle Ages, especially in the 15th century. The court of the first and second dynasties resided here for long periods, constructing palaces, monuments and religious buildings. Évora became the scene for many royal weddings and a site where many important decisions were made.
Particularly thriving during the Avis Dynasty (1385-1580), especially under the reign of Manuel I and John III, Évora became a major centre for the humanities (André de Resende - buried in the cathedral) and artists, such as the sculptor Nicolau Chanterene, the painters Cristóvão de Figueiredo and Gregório Lopes, the composers Manuel Cardoso and Duarte Lobo, the chronicler Duarte Galvão and the father of Portuguese drama Gil Vicente.
The city became the seat of an archbishopric in 1540. The university was founded by the Jesuits in 1559, and it was here that great European Masters such as the Flemish humanists Nicolaus Clenardus (Nicolaas Cleynaerts) (1493-1542), Johannes Vasaeus (Jan Was) (1511-1561) and the theologian Luis de Molina passed on their knowledge. In the 18th century the Jesuits, who had spread intellectual and religious enlightenment since the 16th century, were expelled from Portugal, the university was closed in 1759 by the Marquis of Pombal and Évora went into decline. The university was only reopened in 1973.
In 1834, Évora was the site of the surrender of the forces of King Miguel I which marked the end of the Liberal Wars.
The many monuments erected by major artists of each period now testify to Évora's lively cultural and rich artistic and historical heritage. The variety of architectural styles (Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, Renaissance, Baroque), the palaces and the picturesque labyrinth of squares and narrow streets of the city centre are all part of the rich heritage of this museum-city.
Today, the historical centre has about 4000 buildings and an area of 1.05 km².
Évora is the chief city of the Alentejo
region, and plays a role as an important agricultural
center. It is home to several institutions with great importance for the region, like the state-run University of Évora
and district hospital
. Évora has tried to develop the aerospace
sector, with industrial facilities of EMBRAER
- Água de Prata Aqueduct (Aqueduct of Silver Water): With its huge arches stretching for 9 km, this aqueduct was built in 1531-37 by King João III to supply the city with water. Designed by the military architect Francisco de Arruda (who had previously built the Belém Tower), the aqueduct ended originally in the Praça do Giraldo. This impressive construction has even been mentioned in the epic poem Os Lusíadas by Luís de Camóes. The end part of the aqueduct is remarkable with houses, shops and cafés built between the arches.
- Cathedral of Évora: Mainly built between 1280 and 1340, it is one of the most important gothic monuments of Portugal. The cathedral has a notable main portal with statues of the Apostles (around 1335) and a beautiful nave and cloister. One transept chapel is manueline and the outstanding main chapel is baroque. The pipeorgan and choir stalls are renaissance (around 1566).
- S. Brás Chapel: Built around 1480, it is a good example of Mudéjar-Gothic with cylindrical buttresses. Only open for prayer.
- Saint Francis Church (Igreja de São Francisco): Built between the end of the 15th and the early 16th centuries in mixed Gothic-Manueline styles. The wide nave is a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture. Contains many chapels decorated in Baroque style, including the Chapel of Bones (Capela dos Ossos), totally covered with human bones.
- Palace of Vasco da Gama: Vasco da Gama resided here in 1519 and 1524, the dates corresponding to his nomination as the Count of Vidigueira and Viceroy of India. The Manueline cloister and some of its Renaissance mural paintings are still preserved.
- Palace of the Counts of Basto: Primitive Moorish castle and residence of the kings of the Alfonsine dynasty. Its outer architecture displays features of Gothic, Manueline, Mudéjar and Renaissance styles.
- Palace of the Dukes of Cadaval: The palace with its 17th-century façade is constituted in part by an old castle burnt in 1384; it is dominated by the architectural elements of the Manueline-Moorish period and by a tower called Tower of the Five Shields. This palace of the governor of Évora served from time to time as royal residence. The first-floor rooms houses a collection manuscripts, family portraits and religious art from the 16th century.
- Lóios Convent and Church: Built in the 15th century, contains a number of tombs; the church and the cloister are Gothic in style, with a Manueline chapterhouse with a magnificent portal. The church interior is covered in azulejos (ceramic tiles) from the 18th century. In 1965 it has been converted into a top-end pousada
- Ladies' Gallery of Manuel I's Palace (Galeria das Damas do Palacio de D. Manuel): Remnants of a palace built by King Manuel I in Gothic-Renaissance style. According to some chroniclers, it was in this palace, in 1497, that Vasco da Gama was given the command of the squadron he would lead on his maritime journey to India.
- Roman Temple of Évora: Improperly called Diana Temple, this 1st century-temple was probably dedicated to the Cult of Emperor Augustus (but some texts date it to the second or even the thirth century). It is one of a kind in Portugal. The temple was incorporated into a mediaeval building and thus survived destruction. It has become the city's most famous landmark. The temple in Corinthian style has six columns in front (Roman hexastyle) with in total fourteen granite columns remaining. The base of the temple, the capitals and the architraves are made of marble from nearby Estremoz. The intact columns are 7.68 m high. It can be compared to the Maison Carrée in Nîmes, France.
- University of Évora: Formerly a Jesuit college built by Cardinal-King Henrique in 1559, it includes the 16th century Mannerist church and the academic buildings surrounding the large 17th-18th century cloister.
- Renaissance fountain at Largo das Portas de Moura: Built in 1556 in Renaissance style. This original fountain has the shape of a globe surrounded by water, a reference to the Age of Discovery.
- Giraldo Square (Praça do Geraldo): Centre of the city; in this square King Duarte built the Estaus Palace which even today maintains its Gothic look. The Renaissance fountain (fonte Henriquina) dates from 1570. Its eight jets symbolize the eight streets leading into the square. At the northern end of the quare lies St Anton's church (Igreja de Santo Antão) built by Manuel Pires, also from the 16th century. This is a rather plump church with three aisles. The antependium of the altar displays a valuable 13th century Roman-Gothic bas relief. In 1483 Ferdinando II , Duke of Braganza was decapitated on this square, in the presence of his brother-in-law king John II. This square also witnessed thousands of Auto de fes during the period of the Inquisition; 22.000 condemnations, it seems, in about 200 years.
- Cromeleque dos Almendres, 15 km from Évora: Megalithic monument, a cromlech with archaeoastronomical interest.
- Anta Grande do Zambujeiro, about 10 km from Évora near Valverde: It is the larger dolmen in the region.
that serves Évora is the A6/E90. You can get to Évora by motor route:
- from Lisbon, take the 25 de Abril Bridge, then the A2 and the A6
- or take the Vasco da Gama Bridge, then the A12, A2 and A6
- from Setúbal, take the IC3, then join the A2 and take the A6
- from Elvas or Spain (Badajoz), take the A6
- from the interior north and center, take the A23 (free), then the IP2; if you want freeway only, (IP2 being a highway) take the A23 (free), then the A1 to Santarém, where you'll cross the Tagus river, then A13 and A6.
Travel time from Lisbon by car (due east) via the turnpike [A6] (fee-paid at end, not very scenic) is about one and a half hours. Secondary, eventually scenic roads can be taken, but be ready for a much longer (up to 3 hours) trip. Due to limited turist signage, you should have a list of interesting points compiled prior to driving a route to Évora. Motor assistance services are reasonable but aimed at local commerce, not tourism.
Évora can also be reached by bus or train. The construction of the TGV high speed train link to Lisbon and Madrid is planned but yet to be done.
There is a small airfield, the Évora Municipal Airport, currently without commercial airline service.
The closest major airports are: Lisbon, Faro (Algarve) and Badajoz (Talavera la Real).
Évora is in the heart of Alentejo region, an area consisting mostly of a soft rolling hills and plains. Alentejo's capital and largest city, Évora is a quite pleasant medium sized city and has numerous monuments. Due to its long history, monuments and buildings are its main attraction to outsiders. However there are numerous "Festas Populares" celebrating saints, holidays, "Feiras" (fairs) and cultural events (such as televised musical presentations) sponsored by the municipality and other organizations Such events are so common that locals hardly make reference to them. The city's wonderful backdrop is often featured in concerts.
Évora, as well as the surrounding area, has many hotel, bed-and-breakfast and various styles of accommodation. From the very expensive - Convento do Espinheiro, Heritage Hotel & Spa - to camping sites, there is a great variety, with something for all tastes and budgets.
The weather tends to be warm, often hot (32-35 C), and rarely goes below 5 C in winter.
Other interesting cities, towns and villages in the Alentejo: Elvas, Portalegre, Castelo de Vide, Marvão, Estremoz, Vila Viçosa, Beja, Moura, Serpa, Mértola, Monsaraz, Alcácer do Sal, Grândola, Tróia, Santiago do Cacém, Vila Nova de Milfontes and Zambujeira do Mar.
- Évora (Santo Antão)
- Évora (São Mamede)
- Évora (Sé e São Pedro)
- Horta das Figueiras
- Nossa Senhora da Boa Fé
- Nossa Senhora da Graça do Divor
- Nossa Senhora da Tourega
- Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe
- Nossa Senhora de Machede
- São Bento do Mato
- São Manços
- São Miguel de Machede
- São Sebastião da Giesteira
- São Vicente do Pigeiro
- Senhora da Saúde
- Torre de Coelheiros
Évora is twinned with:
Notes and references
- Turner, J. - Grove Dictionary of Art - MacMillan Publishers Ltd., 1996; ISBN 0-19-517068-7
- The Rough Guide to Portugal - 11th edition March 2005 - ISBN 1-84353-438-X
- Rentes de Carvalho J. - Portugal, um guia para amigos - In Dutch translation : Portugal - De Arbeiderspers, Amsterdam; ninth edition August 1999 ISBN 90-295-3466-4