The Alentejo functions according to its own rhythm. Its Continental climate creates a marked variation in temperatures during the various seasons of the year. Within Portugal, it one of the regions with the highest number of sunny days accompanied by blue skies. An abundance of warmth and heat will welcome you during the Spring and Summer, with clear and warm, yet chilly temperatures in the Winter.
Set off for the countryside around Ã‰vora and discover areas inhabited since Mesolithic times, where you will find a range of structures including cave systems, stone-circles, Shell-middens, and dolmens. Should you not have much time, we highly recommend Montemor-o-Novo, Ã‰vora, and Monsaraz where you will find the most impressive concentration of these prehistoric structures. Near Monsaraz, you have Olival da Pega, Xerez, Outeiro, BelhÃµa, Barrocal, and Monte da Ribeira. In the area near Ã‰vora, we recommend dropping by the town of Pavia where you can see the dolmen-turned-Catholic chapel of SÃ£o Denis, an example of the Christianization of a monument once considered pagan.
The Roman Period
Sites within the historical center of Ã‰vora include: the Roman-Gothic-Moorish wall, the Roman Temple, the hot springs at PaÃ§os do Concelho, the Arch of Dona Isabel, and the Casa de Burgos. Outside the city, you will find the hot springs at Villa de Tourega, along the road designated Ã‰vora-AlcÃ¡Ã§ovas.
The Moorish Period
Beginning in the 8th Century, the Moors occupied the southern half of Portugal for nearly five hundred years. As a result, Moorish influence on Portuguese culture can be evidenced in the many plant species and agricultural techniques widely used as well as systems for collecting and storing water, culinary traditions, construction techniques, decorative elements, artistic influences, along with hundreds of words of Arabic origin still used in contemporary Portuguese. Many of the architects who designed castles built during the Christian reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula were Muslim, with a significant number of mosques eventually redesigned and newly erected as Catholic churches. The best examples of this particular element of Moorish heritage are in the village of MÃ©rtola.
Ã‰vora - World Heritage Site
The impressive architectural and artistic heritage of this UNESCO site can be seen throughout the city of Ã‰vora. For those interested in short walks and exploring by foot, the experience offers strolls through a cross section of various historical periods beginning with the Romans and continuing through Neoclassical, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque periods along with various examples of Manuelino style architecture, named after the Portuguese monarch, King Manuel I (1495-1521). Unique to Portugal, the style synthesizes maritime elements and representations of the discoveries in Brazil, Africa, and the Far East into architectural styles already present in Europe at the time. Taking into account the most important sites, one should set aside a couple of hours to visit the Roman Temple, the Cathedral of Santa Maria, the Church of St. Francis, Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones), Don Manuel's Palace, the Chapel of SÃ£o Bras, the vista point at Casa Cordovil, the Manuelino-style window at Casa de Garcia de Resende, the historic Jesuit ColÃ©gio do Espirito Santo now the distinguished University of Ã‰vora, the Church of MisericÃ³rdia, Giraldo Square, and Garcia de Resende Theater.
Things to Do
Damming along the Guadiana River between Moura and Portel has resulted in one of the largest man-made lakes - Alqueva Lake - in all of Western Europe with an area of 250 km2 and 1,160 kilometers along its perimeter. An integral part in the construction of this dam was the AÃ§ude de PedrÃ³gÃ£o, which can easily be observed along the bridge that joins PedrÃ³gÃ£o (Vidigueira) and Moura. The beauty of this lake that subsequently developed is impressive and includes elements unique to this particular body of water, namely the surrounding Alentejano landscape made up of thousands of olive trees and cork oaks. Likewise, given the historical antagonism that existed for centuries along the Portuguese-Spanish border and our geographic proximity to it, of noteworthy interest are the fortified villas that successfully defended the territory for centuries.
For those traveling on their own whether on bicycle or by car, we strongly recommend going around the entire lake, with stops of special interest at Juromenha, Alandroal, Terena, Monsaraz, Portel, MourÃ£o, and Moura. A must-see is the recently developed village of Luz on the banks of Alqueva Lake, whose original village or "old village" lies submerged below the water line of the reservoir. Developers were well aware of this fact when drawing up the designs for the reservoir, but the advantages of the overall project required sacrificing the original community of 300 plus residents, with the unique resettlement plan of rebuilding "Luz" a few kilometers away on higher ground. While there, we encourage you to visit the local museum (Museu da Luz) that serves as an important repository of artifacts from the original village as well as the Guadiana River. Of equal interest to those trekking are three signaled paths in the area around Alandroal: PR1 "Rota do Giro"; level of difficulty = medium; distance = 4.5 km; trail begins at the Church of N.Âª S.Âª da ConsolaÃ§Ã£o // PR2 "Pedra AlÃ§ada"; level of difficulty = medium; distance = 9 km; trail begins at Junta de Freguesia da Aldeia de Pias // PR3 "Passeios pelo Campo"; level of difficulty = medium; distance = 11 km; trail begins at CemitÃ©rio de Terena.
For further information: http://www.cm-alandroal.pt/pt/conteudos/informacoes+uteis/Percursos+Pedestres/