On our way to Evora, we took the advice of a couple of people we met on our trip and visited the Convento de Cristo and the castle of Tomar. Construction of the castle began in the 12th century. The castle/convent served as the home of the Knights of the Order of the Poor Templar. A gorgeous example of romanesque architecture, augmented by Manueline construction during the Renaissance, it is a beautiful place to explore. Notice the pulpit and the tromp l'oiel pulpit painted to balance the design in the church.
Evora amazed us! From the Roman temple, to the aqueduct to the delicious food, we thoroughly enjoyed our two nights. Another World Heritage Sight, the walled town includes a beautiful Roman temple. Mostly columns remain, but the majesty of the original is evident, build on a high place in the city. The Cathedral is beautiful, but the most special part to us, was the view from the roof--a 360 view of the city and the surrounding countryside.
One of the most bizarre sights we visited on our trip through the Iberian peninsula is the Capella Dos Ossos, the Chapel of the Bones. Constructed from bones exhumed from an overcrowded cemetary, the purpose was to remind the citizens of their mortality in an era of "frivolity." The entire decoration of the chapel consists of human bones. Really!
One of the best meals we consumed in Portugal was at the Tasquinha da Oliveira. Intimate, delicious and obviously frequented by locals, this is a must not miss. For a tiny town, food and wine adventures abounded. After a great wine tasting at Adega Ervideira, we enjoyed a lovely al fresco lunch on the patio across the street
Leaving Evora, we set out for the ancient sights of Almendres Cromlech and the Menir do Monte dos Almendres. To reach the Menir, or the monolith, there is a short hike down a narrow path in the middle of a farm. Say hello to the cows and check out the wildflowers on the way. You can see Queen Anne’s Lace and Hemlock intertwined on the trail. If you are short on time, you can skip the Menir and head straight to the Almendres Cromlech. Predating Stonehenge, surrounded by cork trees, you wander through huge boulders with carvings from prehistoric times. According to some historians, the significance of the arrangement relates to the solar calendar. Paul had a hard time believing that one can really interpret the seemingly random field of stones this way.
Next stop, a very wandering drive past harvested cork to visit a winery. GPS was a little off, but we saw much of the Alentejo countryside. We weren't interested in a tour, just a tasting and we had one of the best tastings of our trip at the Herdade de Sao Miguel. Beautiful modern building and a great hostess leading the tasting.
Next, our final destination in Portugal--Faro and the Algarve.
Paul ordering a special drink.