For culture vultures, the vast landscape of the Alentejo, with its fortified cities and tiny villages, creates a beautiful, scenic region with a magical atmosphere. The UNESCO World Heritage site of Evora, with its palaces and marble buildings, is a must for any visitor. Located 1-hour from Beja or Lisbon, Evora is the oldest town in Portugal - with 22 churches and beautiful religious architecture. The Temple of Diana dates back to the 2nd century, there is a 16th century marble fountain, and 17th century churches. You will notice architecture characterised by a twisted rope decoration, called Manueline, which is Portuguese late Gothic style and dates back to the 1500s. Marble doors and window frames are common in the area due to the plentiful supply of marble.
Take a look at the following hotels in Evora: Hotel Convento do Espinheiro, Hotel M'ar de Ar Aqueduto, Hotel M’ar de Ar Muralhas and Pousada Convento de Evora.
The Bones Chapel (Capela dos Ossos) is a Franciscan Chapel whose walls are literally covered with human bones, including skulls, removed from tombs by monks. Above the door to the Chapel is an inscription ‘Our bones are here; we are waiting for yours’.
Strategically located on a hilltop, Estremoz has many stories to tell. Park your car outside the city walls and visit the hilltop castle and the fortified walls, the churches and the pretty little streets with shops selling local products. Our favourite hotel in Estremoz is the Pousada Castelo de Estremoz.
The village of Arraiolos is famous for the manufacture of beautiful carpets and tapestries that still maintain the old techniques and feature their traditional yellow and blue colours. Take a walk in the village where you will see old workshops, with women making and repairing these valuable carpets. Not far from Estremoz is Vila Viçosa, where the Royal family of Bragança lived, with its impressive Palacio Ducal and Palace Square. We love the Pousada Convento de Arraiolos in Arraiolos.
Between Estremoz and Evora is Evoramonte, a medieval village with tiny, peaceful streets surrounding the castle. Linger there and be overwhelmed by the beautiful views from the top of the tower.
Mertola, the southernmost town of the Alentejo stands at the edge of the Guadiana National Park, perched on a hilltop overlooking the confluence of the Oeiras and Guadiana rivers. This walled town is in a time warp, with narrow streets lined with many gracious buildings leading upwards to the ruined 13th century castle.