The Convento d'Espinheiro, 3km/2mi northwest of Évora, has a beautiful cloister dating from the 15th/16th C.
Convento de Sao Bento de Castris
The Convento de Sao Bento de Castris, 4km/2.5mi northwest of Évora on the N114-4 to Arraiolos, stands at the foot of Mt Sao Bento (367m/1,203ft, fine views). The convent was founded in 1274 and has a 14th/15th C. church containing 18th C. azulejo decoration; there is also a fine 16th C. cloister.
Évoramonte, about 35km/22mi northeast of Évora, is worth a visit. Prominently situated above the newer town on a hill (474m/1,555ft), the old town center, with its winding alleys and little white houses, is still surrounded by its walls. At its highest point stands Évoramonte Castle, built in the 14th C. on the ruins of a Moorish predecessor and rebuilt after an earthquake in 1531. The recently restored, yellow painted fort can be visited. A plaque on the wall of a house on the left side of the main street, past the walls, commemorates the fact that the Treaty of Évoramonte concluding the "Miguelist" wars was signed here on May 26, 1834.
18km/11mi northwest of Viana do Alentejo, at the foot of the Serra de Sao Joao, lies Alcáçovas, with a handsome 15th C. palace of the Counts of Alcáçovas and a notable 16th C. parish church. Some 3km/2mi west above the town lies the chapel of Nossa Senhora da Esperança (16th C.), the remains of a Dominican monastery; from here there are fine views.
The little country town of Alvito, 10km/6mi south of Viana de Alentejo, boasts a parish church with magnificent 17th C. azulejo decoration and a fine fortified castle (15th C.) built by the Marquês de Alvito. The castle has recently been converted into a pousada.
Agua de Peixes
A little road northeast out of Alvito leads to Agua de Peixes, where the Dukes of Cadaval, who also owned a magnificent urban palace in Évora, sited their fine 16th C. Hispano Mauresque country mansion.
About 40km/24mi southeast of Évora lies the small country town of Portel. Its 13th C. Bragança castle was largely rebuilt under Manuel I (fine view). The little chapel of Santo António is lavishly decorated with polychrome azulejos.
Monsaraz, 50km/31mi east of Évora, near the Spanish border, still has a very medieval look, and is worth a visit. Its fortifying walls date from the 16th C., and a walk round the sleepy little town should take in the Gothic parish church, the 17th C. pelourinho, the Gothic palace of justice and, above all, the castle, built in the early 14th C. during the reign of King Dinis.Monsaraz is a small town bustling with activity; song and dance, art and craft exhibitions and musical entertainment.
The little town of Montemor-o-Novo (alt. 291m/955ft) 23km/14mi southwest of Arraiolos has a Moorish appearance, with its white houses rising up the slopes of a hill. High above the town are the ruins of a medieval castle, occupying the site of a Roman fortress.
Santiago do Escoura - Gruta do Escoural
This cave, 12km/8mi southeast of Montemor-o-Novo (above the little town of Santiago do Escoural), came to light during blasting operations in 1963. Inside were found 12,000 year-old rock drawings and engravings.
In the archeological museum in the former Convento de Sao Domingos (16th-18th C.) can be seen reproductions of drawings and finds from the Gruta do Escoural.
Address: Convento de Sao Domingos, Largo Professor Dr Banha de Andrade, Portugal
Opening hours: 10am-5pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee: FREE
Disability Access: Full facilities for persons with disabilities.
25km/16mi south of Estremoz on a road which runs through the Serra de Ossa (653m/2,142ft), passing the Convento da Berra, lies Redondo (alt. 305m/1,000ft), a pleasant little town with the ruins of a 14th C. castle built in the reign of King Dinis I and, higher up, the church of the Misericórdia, which has a Manueline choir.
Viana de Alentejo, Portugal
Stone Circle of Almendres
The countryside around Évora is rich in examples of megalithic culture. Particulary impressive is the stone circle of Almendres (Cromeleque dos Almendres), on the N 114 from Évora. In the town of Sao Matias (about 8km/5mi west of Évora) turn off towards Guadalupe. The Cromeleque dos Almendres consists of 92 upright stones forming an oval 60m/200ft long and 30m/100ft across. The stones are colored red and are marked with symbolic signs. Assumed to have been used for cult purposes, the site is dated somewhere between 4000 and 2000 B.C.
Anta do Zambujeiro - Valverde
A few miles south of the Cromeleque dos Almendres, near the town of Valverde, can be found the "Anta do Zambujeiro", a setting of stones with dolmens over 6m/20ft high. A stone covered each dolmen, and over this earth was originally heaped. Most of the grave goods found in these tombs are now on display in the Évora Museum.
A short way past the Cromeleque do Xerez the road meets the N 256; 5km/ 3mi further on in a southerly direction lies the town of Mourao, protected by a medieval castle. Characteristic of the town are the cylindrical chimneys with hemispherical cowls.
Tanding Stones of Xerez
The narrow road leading south from Monsaraz to Mourao soon passes the Cromeleque do Xerez (signposted). The collection of menhirs here is, however, not quite as impressive as that at Almendres.
Map of Evora Attractions