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Evora, Portugal - Unexpected beauty in this Portuguese city and the birthplace of Evora cheese

Updated: Oct 26, 2022

Catedral de Évora
Evora municipality of Portugal

When I searched for a cheese related destination in Portugal, Evora kept rising to the top over and over. Evora has an extensive history of producing cheese but the region is also very well known for it's wine production. The Alentejo region produces some of the finest wines Portugal has to offer! So, since I was in Portugal for a friend's wedding, I decided to take a road trip to visit this gem in the middle of country.

As a city, Evora has an ancient history. It was a well known city in Roman Hispania. Status as a stopover on major trade routes brought a constant stream of new people and ideas. Today you can visit the remnants of the Roman rule easily. Our first stop inside the old city walls was to the Corinthian temple ruins at the very center of the city.

Quick note to avoid going to Evora in the peak of summer! It is hot and alot of businesses will be closed!

As far as Cathedrals go, Evora has a very unique one. Access to the roof is permitted since the best view is from the top. Also the architecture, sculpture and style of the cathedral here is very rare. The spire is very ornate and looms over the town below. Perched on a hilltop, it also would fit the description of a castle. A beautiful oasis from the heat outdoors in the summer, the cathedral of Evora is a pleasant visit!

Since the city is centered on a giant mound, routes in and out of the old city walls are fairly inclined. We found an amazing little area for food just down the street from the Cathedral. The restaraunts were very busy, people seeking shelter from the sun I think. Make reservations well ahead of visiting Evora! We found a great cafe to stop and have some Sangria. We had some lunch there aslo, including a charcuterie board which featured some great examples of the local cheese.

When searching for places to visit in Evora, one place stuck out as different from anything I had seen before. Deep in the city center, situated next to a monastary, is a chapel which is adorned with human bones. A Franciscan chapel, it is estimated that 5000 skulls were used in its decoration. The walls are practically made of human bones and skulls. You feel a very somber and spooky feeling upon entering the chapel.

Enscription in the chapel of Bones

Where are you going in such a hurry, traveler? not advance your travel.

You have no greater concern,

Than this one: that on which you focus your sight.

Recall how many have passed from this world,

Reflect on your similar end.

There is good reason to do so;

If only all did the same.

Ponder, you so influenced by fate,

Among the many concerns of the world,

So little do you reflect on death.

If by chance you glance at this place,

Stop ... for the sake of your journey,

The longer you pause, the further on your journey you will be.

—Padre António da Ascenção, translated by Carlos A. Martins

On that note, I found a cheese factory just outside the city called Cachopas. It was more farm than factory as there were goats, deer, pigs, and ostrich there! It was clear that they made their cheese on-site in a small factory, and that they did it well! The shop at the factory is small but holds a good deal of fresh and cured cheeses!

Traditionally, cheese from Evora is based on sheep's milk and a thistle is used instead of rennet to co-agulate the milk. The cheese is then cured and aged if desired. In restaraunts, it seemed most of the local cheeses were not long aged. I have heard that Evora cheese does really well when aged so I will have to look out for some in the future. Cheeses like Evora are great when heated and nestled between crispy bread. Or just as a snack!

I purchased a few cheeses from the factory to try. I have them with my personal rating below:

Quiejo de Vaca e Ovelha Curado

Cheese made from cow and sheep milk. Cured

8.5 out of 10

Flavor Notes:

-Salty and buttery

-Slightly acidic

-Silky texture which turns almost spongy when heated

Quiejo de Vaca e Ovelha Curado

Cheese made from cow and sheep milk. Cured and spiced (paprika)

7.5 out of 10

Flavor Notes:

-Salty and zesty

-Slightly acidic

-Similar texture to the unspiced version, harder and more flavorful rind.

Queijo de Vaca e Cabra

Cheese made from cow and goat milk.

Cured with parsley and garlic

7.0 out of 10

Flavor Notes:

-Herbal and briny

-Strong garlic flavor

-Firm to almost crumbly texture

Queijo de Vaca e Cabra

Cheese made from cow and goat milk.


7.5 out of 10

Flavor Notes:

-Briny and tart

-Dry to flaky

-Crumbly texture

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