Tag Archives: Alentejo

Cartuxa: seven steps to heaven

For a traveller who wishes to come in touch with the stardom of the universe of  Portuguese wines, Cartuxa is a must – a well-established name in Europe and abroad, it produces the most exquisite brands in white and red, however it is the red of Cartuxa, which is listed globally among the best 50 wines, and among most expensive in Portugal. The recent average price for Cartuxa Pera Manca Tinto hits €300, and in spite of being a luxury item, it is sought after. Some wine ‘pilgrims‘ come from the other continents to the winery to acquire a bottle.

Enchantment of  Cartuxa starts with its legend in the visitor centre is in the old refectory of the former retreat of the Jesuit Brothers who taught at Evora University in the XVI-XVII centuries. During the dramatic moment of the Jesuits eviction in 1759 by order of Prime Minister Pombal, the property was taken over by the State, and already by 1776  it was recorded as operating a significant wine-press, taking grapes from across the region. Adega Cartuxa was purchased by the Eugenio de Almeida family in the XIX century, living through evolution over the years, and  preserving its outstanding architectural and historic integrity.

Cartuxa

Cartuxa is generously sharing with the visitors the savoir-faire of art of wine production, presenting the entire cycle from grapes collection to solid cellars, and tasting. Image: February 2018, Alentejo, Portugal

Pêra-Manca is the label reserved for Eugénio de Almeida Foundation’s most exceptional wines.
The whites are a blend of Antão Vaz and Arinto grape varieties producing wines with a vivid citrus colour and a fruity, persistent, delicate and complex aroma. On the palate they are soft, dry, complex and balanced.

Pêra-Manca

Cartuxa, Pêra-Manca is the label reserved for Eugénio de Almeida Foundation’s most exceptional wines. Image: February 2018, Alentejo, Portugal

The charms of contemporary wine production is deeply rooted in  Cartuxa Monastery built for the Carthusian Order in XVI century by Archbishop Teotonio. The monument is close to Évora, where the sound of Monastery bell is heard, especially when it tolls at midnight, contributing to  the World Heritage museum-city ensemble. Today, the  Cartuxa de Santa Maria Scala Coeli is appreciated as part of a larger Evora’s artistic and spiritual treasures concert. But the contemporary perfection of the convent’s edifice was not always the case…

It was only in the mid-XX century the heir of the property, Vasco Maria, Earl of Vil’alva decided to restore the monastery and return it to the Order of Saint Bruno. In 1960 the Carthusian Monks entered the monastery at the invitation of the Foundation, whose initiator completely rebuilt and restored the convent. Nowadays the Convento de Santa Maria Scala Coeli or Cartuxa de Évora, property of the da Eugénio de Almeida Foundation, is a place of prayer of contemplation, the only presence of Carthusian Monks in Portugal.

From 1960 the Carthusian life was reborn and revived at Santa Maria Scala Coeli, open to all who wished to escape urban noise, and share monastic lifestyle.

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Cartuxa Winery is neighbouring Monastery, sharing a bucolic atmosphere inviting to serenity of ‘in vino veritas’. Image: February 2018 Alentejo, Portugal

Cartuxa winery is generously sharing with the visitors the savoir-faire of art of wine production, presenting the entire cycle from grapes collection to solid cellars with barrels, and, of course, the tasting. The explanations of the skilled guides along the tour contribute to understanding of wine sensations, however it is the tasting that is crowning the experience. The Foundation’s wines and olive oils, are abundant there to purchase in a cellar shop, with the exemption of the star of the show Cartuxa Pera Manca Tinto (€200 at spot) which can be acquired as one (!) bottle per group to enjoy during tasting.

Cartuxa

Cartuxa: explanations of wine production by skilled guides contribute to understanding of wine sensations, however it is the tasing that is crowning the experience. Image: February 2018, Alentejo, Portugal.

Scala Coeli, which means in Latin “stairway to Heaven”, takes its name from the Santa Maria Scala Coeli Monastery, more usually known as Cartuxa Monastery, a site where Carthusian monks live in silence and prayer.  Produced from the best blends of each year grape varieties, it was issued for the first time in 2008 as Vinho regional Alentejano, Alvarinho grape.  Traditionally, underlining the connection to Monastery, from which the name originates, the label depicts the steps  to Heaven (see below).

Cartuxa

Scala Coeli (Latin “stairway to Heaven”), originates from the Santa Maria Scala Coeli Monastery, more usually known as Cartuxa Monastery,

Adega Cartuxa – the old cellars at Quinta de Valbom are nowadays used to age the wines produced by the  Eugénio de Almeida Foundation. The success of its winemaking venture enables the Foundation to fund its charitable activities in the region.

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Cartuxa Scala Coeli produced from the best blends of each year of international grape varieties, it was issued for the first time in 2008. Vinho regional Alentejano, Alvarinho grape, Portugal, February 2018

The Eugénio de Almeida Foundation is a privately-owned charity, based in the city of Évora. Its statutory aims are cultural, educational, social and spiritual, focussed on enhancing human achievement and overall development of the region of Évora. Bequeathed by Vasco Maria Eugénio de Almeida, its statutes date 12 August, 1963.

The Foundation meets the aims of its Statutes by creating its own initiatives, exclusively or in partnership, while also supporting projects from other private or public organisations whose intentions meet the charity’s criteria.

In order to carry out its Mission, the Foundation works closely with both Portuguese and international partners.  The increasing involvement of the Foundation within the community has resulted in a plethora of projects noted for their excellence, innovation and quality. Continuing the Alentejo age-old connection with wine, the Foundation has a longstanding history of winegrowing.

However, those who have no opportunity to visit the Winery, and follow the guided tours, can grasp a chance to enjoy Cartuxa finest wines in Restaurante Cartuxa Wine & Flavours located in the historic centre of Évora, in the Eugénio de Almeida Forum, next to the city’s iconic Roman Temple and close by the Cathedral, Museum and Palace of the Dukes of Cadaval.  The restaurant menu is inspired by Mediterranean cuisine where flavours of the Alentejo. Under the direction of chef Bouazza, old family recipes are recreated from seasonal, regionally sourced produce, taking great care to preserve traditional flavours. The restaurant wine list suggests some of the best ALentejo Wines to accompany the meal.

Cartuxa Wine Tourism centre is based at Quinta de Valbom,  just a couple of kilometers from the centre of the World Heritage city of Evora, next to the Cartuxa Monastery from which its name originates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alentejo blue

Startling in its beauty, Alentejo is not only the biggest region of Portugal, but a universe in itself, offering splendid nature, culture, art and glorious history. Although Alentejo has an impressive coastline with  finest beaches, it is a discovery of its inland that will come as unique experience of travelling in time, encountering monuments and touching history mysteries. The lovers of the seascapes, used to coastlines have all the chances to dive into Alentejo blue, manifesting itself in many sophisticated ways.

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Narrow streets of Elvas with tiny houses, belong to the biggest fortified city in Europe, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

At the spacious square  in the middle old city of Elvas nothing reminds about the fortifications of the citadel, the terraces are welcoming, and the  Old Cathedral of Elvas,  or church Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Assunção, keeps the doors open to the visitors.

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The Old Cathedral of Elvas, February 2018

Since  2014, the Old Cathedral of Elvas has become a part of a project of the Ministry of National Defense, supporting military tourism, which aims to enhance interest to historic places of Portugal by creating itineraries telling, the stories of Portuguese heroes:  during  the War of Restoration  in the 17th century, the Cathedral used to be central worship place for prayers for safe return of thousands of Portuguese soldiers. In spite of  lavish golden ornaments, the design creates a sensation of lightness and serenity. The windows situated high above,  almost next to the ceiling, open space for light, and blue Alentejo sky,  filling the church with a thin turquoise mist.

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The  Old Cathedral of Elvas, fragment of the ceiling. February 2018.

A true hidden gem of Elvas is the Church of Dominicans built on the older one devoted to Maria Magdalena, erected by Templar Knights, guarding their symbols and secrets. Partially demolished, the surviving part of a chapel with octagonal dome, strikes with its geometric style, depicting the Convent of Christ (Tomar, Portugal) the 12th century Templar stronghold. Dissolved in the 14th century the Portuguese branch created the Knights of the Order of Christ, inspiring maritime discoveries of the 15th century.  Later decorated with ‘azulejos’, the interior reflects light in bluish spectrum reminiscent of the sea waves, ornaments and flowers from  exotic fabrics Portuguese merchants brought from Orient.

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A gem of Elvas – Church of Dominicans built of older church devoted to Maria Magdalena, erected by Templar Knights. UNESCO World Heritage.

Azulejos constitute a major aspect of Portuguese interiors as they are applied on walls, floors and even ceilings. Many refined azulejos chronicle major historical and cultural aspects of national history. The Portuguese adopted the Moorish tradition and covered the walls completely with azulejos like in the Church of Dominicans.

Azulejo

A style of azulejo composition, called aves e ramagens (‘birds and branches’), came into vogue between 1650 and 1680 under influence of printed textiles imported from India: flowers, animals and birds.

Reflecting the celestial colors of the landscape in its elegant tiles – Azulejo, the blue hues of the Pousada Castelo de Estremoz  are in a magnificent views from the ancient tower, but also in its interiors of the hotel. Situated in the town of Estremoz, in a castle built by Dom Dinis for Queen Santa Isabel (1282 – 1325)Pousada is an authentic ancient fortress, a special place to live moments of Portuguese history, and enjoy sightseeing of the surroundings. From the Torre de Menagem (Tower), one can admire the views, but not less enjoy the fascination of touch with the glorious past, climbing the steps once used by the guards of the Queen to ensure her calm.

Pousada Castelo de Estremoz

Pousada Castelo de Estremoz, an ideal place to live Portuguese history, being a guest of the legendary Queen Santa Isabel  (1282 – 1325)

Authentic medieval village of Monsaraz, keeps its secrets from times of Knights Templar, and even Moorish rulers. One of the oldest in Portugal in 2017 it won the category “Monument Villages”, confirming its status as an open air museum. Unlike many other museums its undeniable charm is in splendid views on picturesque surroundings.

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Monsaraz medieval village, February 2018

However it is the Alqueva Lake, which like a magnet attracts the most glances – situated on driving distance  it is the next destination to enjoy the blues of its cobalt waters.

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Belvedere, Monsaraz, February 2018

For those who would like to navigate,  Alentejo blue univers offers ultramarine waters of Amieira Marina – Grande Lago – Alqueva – Europe’s largest artificial lake. Created in 2002 to provide water for Portugal‘s hottest region Alentejo, the lake offers a variety of boat trips, and aquatic sports. Although its beauty should not be reduced to recreation – the amazing blues of the deep waters deserve visits of artists, depicting its hues and profound calm.

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Amieira Marina (Grande Lago – Alqueva) February 2018

 

 

 

 

 

His Majesty ‘Sobroso’

Majestic in its spacious grandeur Herdade do Sobroso stikes with its royal style, and natural splendor, offering an entire palette of inspirations: from exiting safari in the wild to relaxing afternoons at Estate with panoramic belle vue next to a swimming pool;  from classic Alentejo cuisine to tastings of modern and sophisticated wines from  its immense property. Reflecting the soul of Alentejo region, Sobroso is a must for a traveller, looking  for a genuine encounter with Portugal’ boundless universe.

Herdade do Sobroso

Herdade do Sobroso, Alentejo, Portugal, February 2018

A traveller finds a warm welcome in the hotel and the restaurant of the Estate, with skilled staff, making you feel like a royalty in spacious interiors, which got second life two decades ago with new ownership. In 2001 the property was acquired by an architect Antonio Ginestal Machado, who realised his ambition to transform the abandoned lands into a modern project assembling different faces of Alentejo :  wilderness and culture – cork-oak forest and vineyards, receiving guests in the Estate to share the fascination with the beauty of the place, and excellence of its wine and food, giving birth to Sobroso legend.

Hotel Herdade do Sobroso, Alentejo, Portugal

Herdade do Sobroso, Alentejo, Portugal, February 2018

As stylish as Estate, Sobroso wines represent refined taste of a young generation of producers. Inspired by Alentejo, they pay a greatest attention to creation of a special  compositions, unique in its relation to the region, terroir,  and charm of the Estate itself.

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The creativity in reflection of Alentejo unique beauty met utmost warm welcome among the wine experts – in spite of being a newcomer at competitive European wine market, Herdade do Sobroso received high esteem of the professionals awarded with medals of excellence. Aged for 18 month in French oak barrels,  Sobroso Reserva 2014 enchants with hints of wild berries, dark plum, and vanilla,  pleasing the eye with deep dark hue, and taste with long-lasting elegant finish.

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“Our wines are best match for classic Portuguese food, especially Alentejo cuisine”, – says oenologist Filipe Teixeira Pinto, explaining a concept of his compositions. A new generation of wine creators, he trotted the globe, before settling in the Estate in 2002, and since then devoting his skills and talent to Sobroso.  Following his advice the distinct flavour of  Bacalhau  from Senhora Josefa’s cuisine accompanied by white Herdade do Sobroso Cellar Selection 2016 makes an excellent lunch or dinner choice. With clear citrus colour, and aroma reminiscent of florals and tropical fruit, it impresses with freshness and intensity,  spelling out the Sobroso terroir.

Herdade do Sobroso cuisine

Herdade do Sobroso cuisine: classic Bacalhau accompanied by wines from Estate. 18 February 2018.

Panoramic views from Estate captures imagination by its infinity, and celestial blue light – there are hardly any rains in Alentejo,  making it an ideal destination for a journey any season. Located in the district of VidigueiraHerdade do Sobroso is bordered by the Mendro mountain range to the north, Guadiana River to the east, and to the south by vast plain stretching beyond the horizon (Pictured).

Herdade do Sobroso belle vue

Herdade do Sobroso belle vue,  Alentejo, Portugal, 18 February 2018

Tasting with the creator – oenologist Filipe Teixeira Pinto – in winery of Herdade do Sobroso adds a personal touch to the encounter with the Estate. Every wine label is a new chapter in a narrative of Sobroso: awaited by connoisseurs, and appreciated by public, searching for new experiences, and sophistication, representing Portuguese state of the art.

 

 

 

 

Malhadinha Nova enchanting universe

There is no need to trot the globe to find an exquisite experience of nature, luxury, adventure and sophistication, meeting sunrise in a safari lodge next to turquoise shades of water. In the heart of Alentejo region just a couple of hours of driving from Lisbon or Algarve,  Malhadinha Nova Country House & Spa offers its charming universe and the savoir faire.

Malhadinha Nova

Malhadinha Nova Estate, Alentejo, Portugal: sunrise, 10 February 2018

Malhadinha Nova will surprise you with a mixture of wildness, and comfort, romanticism and roughness in an eclectic style competing with the best lodges of African Sahel,  but without the dangerous of the latter. In the Estate the traveller will enjoy modern design interiors with exotic touch, and delicious fresh food and wine, making any meals of a day a magic ritual, full of sensations.

Malhadinha Nova estate

Malhadinha Nova estate, Alentejo, Portugal: breakfast, 10 February 2018

The Estate offers you the various ways to spend your day: from leisurely reading a book in a cosy rattan armchair next to the swimming pool, to horse riding, or a safari adventure, discovering landscapes around the farm in Alentejo savannah-like countryside.

Malhadinha Nova Estate, Alentejo, Portugal

Malhadinha Nova Estate, Alentejo, Portugal: Safari to cork-oak forest, 10 February 2018

The Alentejo scenery, competing in allure with the finest views of African Sahel is majestic. With its vast spaces, sometimes animated by a population of black Iberian pigs, passing for wild warthogs from afar. The ancient inhabitants of the Peninsula, they trace their roots to the Neolithic times, and today add the vivid authentic touch to stillness of Alentejo savannah-like topography.

Image: Alentejo landscape, Portugal

Image: Alentejo landscape, Portugal. Black Iberian pig. 10 February 2018

The picturesque corners of Malhadinha Nova vast area, especially a still surface of the pond, make you think about wild natural reserve, but with the advantage of the contemplation of the dark waters without fear of a crocodile attack:) Those who enjoy fishing should definitely make a pause there attempting to get their big catch of a bass or two.

Malhadinha Nova

Image: Malhadinha Nova Estate, Alentejo, Portugal. Pond. 10 February 2018

The vast areas of Malhadinha Nova, including abandoned arable land, received the second life with the new owners of the Estate, who have been investing their talent and passion for two decades into the transformation, which made the stunning metamorphosis possible. The vineyards, stretching to the horizon, constitute of carefully selected sorts of grapes, in the first ranks  Touriga Nacional, Aragonês, Alicante Bouschet, forming the Terroir of Malhadinha Nova in a distinctive way. The wine-tasting, wine lessons, and simply guided tours in the Cave imprint your stay, making one feel closer to the soul of Alentejo terracotta lands.

Malhadinha Nova

Image: Malhadinha Nova Estate Winery, guided tour in Cave. 10 February 2018

 Touriga Nacional da Peceguina 2015  enjoys special attention for presenting the essence of Alentejo wine grape, its dynamic power and energy, with dark fruit sensations engaging with floral elegance of blackberries and blueberries shades. A complexity unfolds in layers with slight floral hint of violet, and tones of dark chocolate along with the spices and a slight toast of a barrel. However the charm of wines goes beyond the taste and quality due to a personal imprint of the family, baptizing each creation with a name of their own child, and with his drawing on the etiquette instead of a traditional Estate image.

Touriga Nacional da Peceguina 2015

Touriga Nacional da Peceguina 2015 Red Wine, Malhadinha Nova Estate, Alentejo, Portugal

The restaurant is waiting for visitors, ascending from the Cave, welcoming with the composition of wines and food, rooted in local traditions of Alentejo, but modernized and fashioned to contemporary taste. It offers an excellent opportunity to have a dinner with the gems in whites as harmonious and emblematic as Malhadinha Nova 2016,  touched by light aromas of fresh fruit; or intense  Monte da Peceguina 2016 reminiscent of tropical fruit, and an ideal match to the image of the Estate.

Image: Malhadinha Nova Estate, restaurant. 10 February 2018

Image: Malhadinha Nova Estate Winery, restaurant. 10 February 2018

In Portugal the recipes of cooking cod are impossible to count, being a great classic of a menu they never sieze to amaze, however Malhadinha Nova chefs offer more than an excellence of taste, but an esthetic performance, the interaction between looks, sensations and smells. The excellence is not a coincidence,  but a fruit of a synergy of a consulting Michelin Star chef Joachim Koerper, the resident chef Bruno Antunes, and a the rigorous guardian of Alejento traditions chef Vitalina Santos. Originating from the most ‘most French‘ city of Germany’–  the Baroque Saarbrucken Joachim Koerper brings the international dimension to rich and colorful tradition of Alentejo cuisine.

Malhadinha Nova Estate restaurant

Image: Malhadinha Nova restaurant: Codfish with organic vegetables from Estate greenhouses. 9 February 2018

Malhadinha Nova Estate terrace is a magnet, but also an ideal place to take a break, reflecting upon the potential next steps: Horse riding? A photography lesson? Or an hour of Spa with wine massage?..

Malhadinha Nova Estate, Alentejo, Portugal

Malhadinha Nova Estate, Alentejo, Portugal. Terrace, 10 February 2018

The terrace of the mason is a lovely place to spent any moment, but especially in the late afternoon. After the impressions of a long and charged with sensations day, when with a cup of a black coffee from ivory porcelain a traveller can have a look at gallery of images in the camera, posting some to share with friends before heading to the bar to continue the tasting of wines. And exchanging impressions with the guests before moving back to the restaurant for fine dining, anticipating the fantasy of the chefs…

Malhadinha Nova Estate, Alentejo, Portugal

Image: Malhadinha Nova Estate, Alentejo, Portugal. A cup of coffee at terrace. 10 February 2018

 

Cromlech Almendres charade

The elegant space for breakfast at Vitoria Stone Hotel strikes with its contemporary stylish design,  but paradoxically it is the reference starting point for a journey to the most ancient and mysterious monument of Alentejo region, and entire Iberian Peninsula.

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Hotel Vitoria Stone, Feb 2018

While enjoying coffee and the view on Evora city from the top floor a guest contemplates on the touch of soft shades of grey on all elements of design, created by the internationally renowned artist Nini Andrade Silva, who made the stone present in the entire hotel as a “tribute to important places in this unique region” of Alentejo.

Hotel Vitoria Stone, Evora, Portugal

Hotel Vitoria Stone top floor, Evora, Portugal

Inspired by the beauty of the stone, and mesmerised by Almendres Cromlech, the artist chooses the megaliths for the theme of a fantasy, carving furniture in a shape of rocks, and pebbles. But what about the real megaliths? Who and how carved them from a rock?..

Vitoria Stone Hotel, Evora, Portugal

Nini Andrade Silva interior design of Vitoria Stone Hotel, Évora, Portugal 16 February 2018

 

The megaliths in the vicinity of Evora city – the famous Cromlech of Almendres continue to startle, inspire and puzzle. The messages from the past, they belong to history mysteries challenging our perception of civilisation and ourselves: who, how, why? Who and how carved these huge rocks into the shape of the sea pebbles? Who brought them there and why?.. How come that those, who created it, and supposedly lived in the caves, hunting with arrows and wearing skins, how come they had such an excellence in construction skills?..

Cromlech Almendres, Alentejo, Portugal, 2018

Cromlech Almendres, Alentejo, Portugal: mysterious megaliths 16 February 2018

Placed in two lines, stones organise an oval shape, supposedly created for observation of stars. The archeologist presume the structure dates back to the 6th millennium BC, but were rediscovered ‘recently’, in 1966, by Henrique Leonor Pina, who carried out the field archeological work. Since then, the megaliths strike imagination, attracting flows of pilgrims, fascinated by the secrets rocks keep. Are they elements of ancient astronomical observatories? Where from the ‘Stone Age people’ got their knowledge of stars? Challenging us, and nourishing hypothesis about extraterrestrials, the Celtic druids worshiping their gods, and the secret knowledge of the prehistoric tribes of Lusitanians living there long before Roman conquest, the megaliths are also giant magnets, attracting curious minds.

Megalith, Cromlech Almendres, Portugal

Sunset among megaliths of Cromlech Almendres, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

The “megalithic universe of Évora” is genuinely tourist friendly – it is still non-commercialised as many other sites, surrounded by walls, fences, and watched by guardians, no CCTV cameras either:) There are no tickets and ropes, protecting stones from people – thus the experience stays direct and undisturbed.

Cromlech Almendres, Portugal

A visitor among megaliths, Cromlech Almendres, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

Partially covered by long shadows of the cork oak, some of the megaliths startle with their unique surface design created by nature. Spattered with the blue moss, they look like artefacts,  inserted into modern landscape installation.

Cromlech Almendres, Portugal

Megalith, Cromlech Almendres, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

However a few rings on the stones are considered to be part of the original design, left by the mysterious carvers, serving as their encrypted message. Some come from faraway to get a thrill of touching mystery…

Almendres Cromlech

Image: Werenr Gladines – best travel blogger of Belgium of 2018 (Cromlech Almendres, 16 February 2018)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evora’s mysterious beauty

The ruins of the Roman temple are the most emblematic place to begin the stroll along the ancient streets of Evora – a camertone to give the right modality to a traveller to prepare his heart to meet the mysterious beauty of the ancient city. However apart of the Roman ruins there is nothing pompous in kissed by sun place, startling in a variety of styles, mixture of epoques,  and an incredible lightness of atmosphere.

Évora, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

Évora streets, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

While strolling from the Roman temple to the central square along the tiny streets one can discover the exposition of the variety of objects made of… cork! A cork to wear, a cork to carry around: bags, shoes, aprons, – all  are made of wooden bark, changing our perception of what can be done from a tree. At heart of the Alentejo region – the world producer of cork for wine bottles – Evorians surprise with their fantasy in exploring the potential of a plant. The stylish design for those who wish to stand out in a crowd – a soft and eco friendly material, cork definitely wins the sympathies of those who have an ambition to be nature and animal friendly according to the contemporary ideals.

Évora, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

Cork oak accessories. Évora, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

The stroll along the charming streets with toursitic shops trading cork leads to the major city temple, located of the highest hill and crowing the old town of Evora.

Évora, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

Cathedral of Évora, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

The splendor of the Cathedral Sé de Évora is breathtaking.  Declared a UNESCO World Heritage, it attracts as magnet the flows of pilgrims – the lovers spiritual art and architecture. The gilded interiors strike with their majestic appearances, making one daydream, watching the long beams of sun coming from above. The opulent decorations  like an orchestra symphony are celebrating the glory of world’s famous explorer Vasco da Gama, who is believed to get the blessing for the flags for his fleet in the Cathedral.

Cathedral, Évora, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

Cathedral, Évora, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

While leaving the Cathedral, and stepping into Evora’s sunshine, one can notice a stream of young people: the true and devoted pilgrimage to one of the city major attractions – Capela dos Ossos – the mysterious Chapel of Bones.

Cathedral, Évora, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

A view from threshold of Cathedral, Évora, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

At most popular among young audience Capela dos Ossos does not make a heavy impression on a visitor thanks to the sunshine from the windows, and quite a dense crowd armed with smartphones and cameras, leaving hardly any space for contemplation on ‘sic transit gloria mundi’ – the creators of the chapel had in mind. The multitudes of bones, covering the walls and pillars, and even two mummies exposed in the space are reminiscent of the decoration of a theatre play, a historic drama, or even a Hollywood move setting. Reportedly many fans of thrillers have the Chapel in mind as an ideal location to celebrate Halloween – a theatrical way of relating to dead with a good dose of humor.

Chapel of Bones, Évora, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

Chapel of Bones, Évora, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

Next to the Chapel’s extravagant decorum the expression of faces of the visitors is not to be missed. Is the message of the Franciscan monks well delivered four centuries after? If judging by the numbers of photographs taken, one can be definite about the success of the project, triumphant in its longevity and capacity to strike imagination. Today with the significant students population of the reputable University of Evora, the Chapel is never to be short of visitors.

Chapel of Bones, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

Chapel of Bones, Évora, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

“Memento mori” images are swiftly disappearing in day light next to the marble fountain at Giraldo Square, where inevitably the traveller finds himself, perambulating in the vicinity of the old town. A special place for the inhabitants of Evora honoring Fearless Geraldo Geraldes (or Giraldo Sem Pavor), the hero-liberator of the city from the of Moorish rule in 1167.  The monumental fountain is a centre of the square and even more so of  folk tales, narrating that the King Philip III of Spain thought that it was worthy of being coronated for its outstanding beauty. But it is not only old art, that inspires – next to the glorious fountain there is a modern sculpture to admire, a piece of pink marble tailored in a rough way following the aesthetics concepts of today, and contrasting with the ancient way of working with the stone polishing its surface.

Giraldo Square, Évora, Alentejo, Portugal

Giraldo Square, Évora, Alentejo, Portugal, 16 February 2018

After the tour in the most glorious part of Evora one can not compromise a lunch in a mediocre place – Dom Joaquim restaurant offers an experience in style beyond  delicious food. Some of the dishes on the menu are as much historical as Evora’s ancient walls and temples: the spicy shark soup traces its history in tales of the city, when clever vendors of the fish preferred it to avoid the strict test on freshness by Evora’s housewives, inspecting the gills color. Since those days, the shark remains a star of Evorian cuisine, served with spicy soup and crunchy bread, it pleases both the taste and curiosity of traveller, making the discovery of Evora special in all senses.