Iberian Adventure: Enchanting Évora, Portugal’s Laid-Back Museum City

Iberian Adventure | Loving Portugal's Laid-Back Museum City | ©thepalladiantraveler.comMy head now beginning to clear following that mid-morning wine tasting session, the intrepid “band of merry media” and I — 29 travel journalists and photographers invited by Insight Vacations (Insight) to sample a portion of its premium-escorted Iberian Adventure through Portugal and Spain — step down off the motor coach, cross the cobble and check into the M`AR De AR Aqueduto hotel-spa, our digs for the next two nights that’s located in the heart of the historic district of Évora, Portugal’s Museum City.

Iberian Adventure | Loving Portugal's Laid-Back Museum City | ©thepalladiantraveler.comThis five-star boutique hotel, with 64 suite-rooms, occupies the old Sepulveda Palace, a magnificent structure from the 16th century that’s framed by the arches of the Aqueduto da Água de Prata (Aqueduct of Silver Water).

While I drop off my bags inside 223, splash some water on my face and check my camera kit, feel free to have a quick look around before we head straight out to soak up the history of this capital city of the Alentejo and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Iberian Adventure | Loving Portugal's Laid-Back Museum City | ©thepalladiantraveler.comSatisfied? Vamos!

Gathered around the Corinthian-columned ruins of the Temple of Diana, a 2 AD Roman structure, we start jotting down notes as Maria José, Insights’ animated local art historian, begins her narrative: “Évora’s roots date back more than 2,000 years to the days of the Lusitanians, and during Portugal’s Golden Age, this museum-city became the residence of the country’s royal family.”

Iberian Adventure | Loving Portugal's Laid-Back Museum City | ©thepalladiantraveler.comMaria José adds, “Its unique quality stems from the whitewashed houses and their wrought-iron balconies dating from the 16th to 18th centuries.”

An enchanting place to delve into the past, Évora’s 14th-century walls protect the labyrinth of narrow travessas that lead to a striking variety of architectural works in Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, Renaissance and Baroque styles.

Take Sé, the medieval, fortress-like, Gothic cathedral of rose-colored granite, with its ornate main portal of apostolic sculptures and a unique statue of a pregnant Madonna.

Iberian Adventure | Loving Portugal's Laid-Back Museum City | ©thepalladiantraveler.comThere’s the atmospheric (read, spooky) Cappella dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones), a dimly lit ossuary inside St. Francis Church where the walls are lined with the skeletal remains of more than 5,000 lost souls.

Or, the town’s focal point, Praça do Giraldo (Giraldo Square), once the epicenter of countless bloody and violent events of the Portuguese Inquisition, today it’s a tranquil spot lined with restaurants and open-air cafes, like Café Arcada, an Évora institution, where I duck inside to enjoy a few more of those luscious pastéis de nata (egg tarts).

Iberian Adventure | Loving Portugal's Laid-Back Museum City | ©thepalladiantraveler.comSpectacular architecture and rich history aside, Évora — a member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network — is also known for its superb food, like the mouth-watering regional dishes of the Alentejo served up daily by Patricia and Joao at Restaurante Maria Luisa, a casual eatery in the historic center’s First of May Square.

Gathered around a mesa, the “band of merry media,” armed with 25 or so sets of cutlery, flies into action on Insight’s euro, savoring an array of mouth-watering dishes and local wines, including my fave: lombo de porco preto (grilled black Iberian pork tenderloin).

Iberian Adventure | Loving Portugal's Laid-Back Museum City | ©thepalladiantraveler.com
Bellies about ready to explode, I forgo the courtesy ride on the motor coach and, instead, make my way back the old fashioned way, on foot, along the lamp-lit cobble of Rua Cândido dos Reis.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (M`AR De AR Aqueduto hotel-spa), I’m being turned down — actually suite 223 is — following my triumphant day in Évora, the Museum City.

Iberian Adventure | ©thepalladiantraveler.comFor complete information on Insight’s 112 premium and luxury-escorted journeys around Europe, just click HERE, or call toll free 1-888-680-1241, or contact your travel agent.

Get a good night’s sleep, for tomorrow we’ll need to be firing on all cylinders when we climb a steep hill to a whitewashed village, hop on board a sailing barge, and put the feedbag back on for more of that to-die-for Alentejo regional cuisine.

Bons sonhos (Sweet dreams).

©The Palladian Traveler

Borsalino w/ props SMALL | ©Tom Palladio Images



Written by The Palladian Traveler

Tom traded his hometown St. Louis Cardinals' baseball cap in the United States for a Borsalino and he now hangs his "capello" in the Puglia region of southeastern Italy. A veteran print and broadcast journalist, with well-worn passports that have got him into and out of 50 countries and counting, Tom fell in love with the "Bel Paese" years ago. As he notes, "I'm inspired by the beauty I find in all things that are very, very old, and reliving history, or at least meandering along the travertine and cobblestone that were laid down over a thousand years ago and just looking up and marveling at what occupies the space still today, really gets my 'Vespa' running." Tom has a good eye behind the lens and is a graphic storyteller, but he'll let you decide as he keeps his camera batteries fully charged and the posts flowing from his creative hideaway in the hills overlooking Ostuni. You can also follow his dispatches via TravelingBoy.com and Anthology Magazine Ireland.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: