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North Porto Silver Coast North Silver Coast Beiras and Central Portalegre Lisbon Alentejo Évora Alentejo Beja Algarve East Algarve Central Algarve West

Regions of Portugal - Alentejo

The Alentejo is a region of unspoilt countryside and rural traditions, of fishing ports, Renaissance towns and medieval villages. From the rolling and very fertile plains of the south to the granite hills that border Spain in the north-east, the countryside varies considerably. This is one of Portugal's poorest and least populated regions and covers almost a third of the country. There are several nature reserves boasting flora and fauna of all descriptions, including some rare and protected species.

Évora, Alentejo's capital, is one of Portugal's most agreeable towns, combining historical elegance with an informal ambience. One of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites, Évora's Moorish walled town centre houses important Roman remains as well as a host of other architectural and artistic treasures. The town's many cafes and restaurants serve excellent food and fine local wines. Take a walk around the old town centre of Portalegre, with its 16th-century cathedral, handsome 17th-and 18th-century mansions and its striking old and new azulejos. The town is a good starting point for visiting the Parque Natural da Serra de São Mamede, a fascinating nature park, where more than half of Portugal's birds nest. The sharp-eyed bird spotter will find vultures, eagles, kites and black storks. The area also includes charming medieval villages that, for the most part, have remained unchanged over time. Billed as a vila museu or an open museum, Mertola is a charming village with a stunning Moorish castle and a tangle of narrow streets full of monuments of historic interest. And from here it is only a short hop to the Parque Natural do Vale Guadiana. The huge variety of wildlife found here includes several rare and unusual species such as the black stork, the horned viper and the Iberian toad. Climb the castle ramparts in Mertola to get a bird's eye view of the few remaining lesser kestrels, a species which is rapidly dying out.

Nearest Airport - Lisbon

Évora

Ancient walled town that is a Unesco world heritage site. Within the wall are quaint cobbled little streets with the most prominent site being is the 2nd Century ruins of a Roman Temple dedicated to the Goddess Diana. Among the attractive features is the 15th Century Convento dos Laios that is now a luxury Pousada Hotel. The city's Cathedral started in 1186 took 50 years to build and is reminiscent of a fortress with two impressive towers. Another fascinating church is the Capela dos Ossos in the 15th Century Igreja de São Francisco. Here lies the bones of some 5.000 persons with an entrance sign reading here are bones that here await yours.

There are several museums, principally the Museu de Arte Sacra, Galeria de Arte Casa Cadaval, the Museu de Artes Decorativas Religiosas and the Museu de Évora. Outside and the city walls is a 18 kilometre Aqueduct built in 1532 to supply water to the city's inhabitants. Évora is also worth a visit to sample some of the regional specialties, such as 'carne de porco a aletejana' (pork with clams) at one of the many restaurants.


Royal Palace at Vila Viçosa

Vila Viçosa

The small, picturesque town is one of the most beautiful in the Alentejo, so it is hardly surprising to find that it is home to a Royal summer palace. Dona Brites, the wife of King Afonso IV, was the first to receive it as a wedding present, followed by Leonor Teles, King Fernando's lover who was hated by the people of Lisbon, and was later presented to Nuno Álvares Pereira, the heroic general of King João I.

The town, which has hundreds of orange trees lining the streets, also boasts the ruins of a castle, and a convent that has been converted to a Pousada Hotel.


Castle at Terena

Terena

Small, picturesque little village with the large ruins of a medieval castle, overlooking miles of the surrounding countryside.


Elvas

The city of Elvas is located near the border between Portugal and Spain and is on the main highway between Lisbon and Madrid. The town is believed to have been originally developed as a location by the Romans and it has suffered many conflicts in its history. In its more recent history its claim to fame was when it was used by the Duke of Wellington as his headquarters in his siege of the neighbouring Spanish town of Badajoz.


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