Alentejo - Évora - by Inês Manuel

The region I have decided to talk about could not be any other than my very own Alentejo. Alentejo, the region of wide, open plains, dry colours, brown cork, yellow corn, green oaks and the white-washed houses.

Alentejo smells of history, culture and heritage.. it tastes of honey, bread sauce and black pig and wine. It has secrets like the hidden nooks that many people think are only for relaxing and country holidays. But at the end of the day, the region has much more than this, and this is what I want to show you!

The first place I have chosen, UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986 is my home town of Évora.

When we arrive at Évora train station we see immediately the historical part of the town, the history of courage and bravery of fearless Geraldo, depicted in the station glazed tiles that waken the senses to the discovery of this zone. From there to the town's main square, Praça do Geraldo, you can go on foot as the station is quite close to the centre. We go past the town's garden and park, where you can find the Dom Manuel Palace, which is currently used for a wide range of free exhibitions. There are fountains and lakes in the garden along with ducks, peacocks and lots of people of all ages. There is coffee and cakes and it smells like that and the trees and flowers all around. Then there is the church of São Francisco and the bone chapel, a very important place in the town due to its originality and cult. Right in front we have the fruit and vegetable market and the fish market, a great place to try a sensation of colours and smells that assault your eyes and nose. Rich in handicrafts, the market is also a place to buy what the region makes best along with the widest range of objects made of cork, clothing and decoration, which can also be found on the two main streets that connect to the main square. Praça do Geraldo is one of the most beautiful places in the country, with a special charm, it smells of roasted chestnuts and the colour of marble, the same material the fountain is made of. Arcades, cafés and esplanades are also part of this square, always filled with locals who are specialists in welcoming and treating visitors well. Climbing another road of tourist shops, we come to the cathedral, which you have to visit and where it is easy to get lost in a charmed world even if it is just for the marvellous view from top of the high walls, it is well worth while. From the highest tower in the cathedral we can see the entire town and the blue sky. The temple of Diana, built by the Romans to honour the Goddess of hunting is another symbol of the town and it sits close to the cathedral in front of a small flower-filled garden brimming with life and colour. 

Talking about food, let's explore the gastronomy of the town, its tourist brand. Pork is the leader: grilled loin of black pig, pork with clams, trotters with coriander and 'migas' (crumbs) with pork are just a few examples of the dishes made from this animal.
For people who don't like meat, Évora is also famous for its soups, we would suggest tomato soup or even dogfish soup and the famous 'açorda' bread sauce. All washed down with a good local wine that delights any connoisseur.

For dessert we would suggest a traditional sweet like 'sericaia com ameixa', a slice of honey and walnut cake of 'sodden eggs', just once, doesn't do any harm and is good for the soul. There are lots of restaurants where you can try these delights and leave you drooling. It is not just monuments, handicrafts, countryside and gastronomy that makes a town, culture is very important too. 
Every day there are places from the most common such as Teatro Garcia de Resende, the cafés and live music bars to the most alternative and minimalist, societies that have daily activities like workshops, cinema and music concerts to antique clothes fairs.

Finally, after all I have said, I wish you a good journey on CP and come and discover the town of Évora. 

See the trip photos here.