City Walls in Évora
The walls of Evora are a remarkable feature of the city, transporting visitors to ancient times. Designated as a National Monument in Portugal since 1922, they form part of the UNESCO World Heritage site that is the historic centre of Evora.
Unlike many other Portuguese cities, Evora has managed to preserve its old walls almost intact over the centuries. The construction of the walls was ordered by King Afonso IV in the 15th century and comprises towers and walls that define the medieval city limits. Notable towers include Torre da Rampa dos Colegiais, Baluarte de São Bartolomeu, Jardim Público de Évora, Portas de Aviz, and those near Convento do Calvário and between the Baluarte do Conde de Lippe and Quartel de Cavalaria.
The Evora Walls, also known as “Cerca Romana” or Roman Enclosure, are a military defence structure built over many centuries. The oldest wall dates back to the 3rd century during the Romanization period and covers an area of about 10 hectares, stretching nearly 2 km around the high part of the city where the Evora Cathedral stands.
The historic centre of Evora, still the political, administrative, economic, and social centre of the city, is well-defined by the outer wall. The defensive system comprises two lines of walls constructed in different periods. The first wall, known as “Cerca-velha,” is a Roman-medieval construction characterized by various towers of different shapes and strategically positioned over the main transport routes. The second wall, known as “Cerca-nova,” is of medieval construction from the 16th century and has been reinforced and strengthened over time with advanced bastions.
The walls of Evora have undergone various changes and restorations by different peoples, including Romans, Visigoths, Moors, and Medieval Portuguese. They have served as fortified defence lines and adapted for the use of artillery from the 16th century onward. Notably, the Torre Quadrangular or Square Tower, attributed to the Visigoth king Sisebuto responsible for the wall’s construction, is actually of late Roman construction in the 3rd century.
Although little is known about the structure of the walls during the Islamic period, some traces remain on the back of the Cathedral and in the Evora Roman Temple. Visitors can experience the walls’ magnificence by walking around its entire perimeter, which offers a close-up view of the different styles and alterations made over time. Visitors can park their cars in one of the many exterior car parks in Evora and enter the city centre through one of its doors, taking a relaxing and enjoyable hike.