I woke up early, had breakfast, and left the apartment I had been calling home for three days heading toward Monsaraz.
I had picked Monzaraz as the first town to visit upon leaving Lagos based on the description in my guide book and a photograph they had that was a two page spread in the book. Once I got home, I realized I had taken one very similar to it – same location, just slightly different angle. It was quite a coincidence as I did not even have the book with me as I explored the town.
This photograph just captured me and pretty much said “this is a town you must visit”. I was not disappointed. As I drove, I could see the town at the top of the hill with it’s old walls still protecting it. It looked incredible and it truly was amazing to walk through the streets and soak it all in. You can look across the valley toward Spain and feel the history as you walk through the city.
The town has seen many battles going back to the 1100s. You can visit the old castle, walk it’s walls for some even more incredible views, and just sit there and imagine all that history.
As you can see from the photographs, one of the advantages of traveling in the off season is you avoid the crowds!
After walking for a couple of hours, I felt the hunger start to sneak in and it was time for a good meal. I stepped into the Casa do Forno restaurant where I engjoyed some table-side grilled local sausage and salted cod fish “a la Brax”. Washed down with some beer, of course. It was delicious and just the right amount of fuel to get me going for the rest of the day and the drive to Evora.
After nearly three hours from Lagos to Monsaraz, the one hour drive to Evora went by very quickly. I arrived and checked into my room at the Hostel Namasté Evora where I had a very nice private room overlooking the plaza. I dropped off my stuff in the room and immediately started exploring the town. I knew I’d be arriving late in the day so I figured I’d enjoy some evening stuff and then have part of the following day.
I headed toward the old Roman temple which was built in the 2nd or 3rd century first and then branched off toward other parts of the town. I was not disappointed by what I found.
Since it was getting late, I headed back to my room to get some rest for the next day which would bring more exploring and a short hour long drive to Elvas.
In the morning, I retraced some of my steps from the previous evening re-visiting the Roman temple and the rest of the town. I visited the Convento dos Loios which was a 15th century monastery now serving as a luxury hotel, the Palace of the Dukes of Cadaval (Palacio dos Duques do Cadaval), the Se, the Praca do Giraldo, the Largo da Porta de Moura, and the Sao Francisco church – a 15th century church where the main attraction is the Capela dos Ossos – a “bone church”. This is a bone church created from the remains of 5,000 monks back in the 17th century.
I stopped by the town’s main public park which features some beautiful buildings, got in my car, and started on the drive to Elvas.