In Evora, all streets lead to Giraldo Square, Praça do Giraldo in Portuguese. It has been like this since its construction, in 1571/1573. This is where you will end up walking to. And where you will want to sit on a terrace and have a drink.
Giraldo Square is an icon paying tribute to Fearless Geraldo Geraldes, the man who conquered Evora from the Moors in 1167. To thank him King Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, nominated him Governor of Evora (alcaide of Evora) and High Protector of the Borders of Alentejo, region which he would help to conquer.
On the coat of arms of Evora, we can see Geraldo Geraldes on a horse holding his sword. At his feet, the heads of both the moor and his daughter who lived in the castle the warrior had attacked and where he took control of the city keys.
After the Portuguese Crown took possession of Evora, the assets including sculptures and a triumphal arch were ordered to be destroyed in order to build the fountain which still today is the centre of attention of the people of Evora and the tourists in Giraldo Square.
This fountain in baroque style is made of marble and has 8 spouts, each symbolising one of the main streets from and to Giraldo Square. On the top of the fountain, theres is a crown. According to the folk story, Philip III of Spain, in 1619, thought that the fountain was worthy of being coronated.
Although the water still continues to come out of the spouts, it is not a good idea to drink it, since the pigeons of Evora took control of the fountain to drink and cool down during the heat hours!
Also located in Giraldo Square, we find Santo Antão Church, also built by King Henrique. This building was the reason why the surrounding monuments in Giraldo Square were destroyed, since they blocked the view towards the church.
Its construction began in 1557. Inside, the spotlight goes to the rare marble front of the high-altar representing the Apostolate of the church which previously occupied the location, the chapel of Santo Antoninho.
This church, one of the most important in Evora, dominates one of the sides of Giraldo Square and still today shows 3 naves on the inside. The rest of the building resembles a “lounge church”. It was considered a very important Portuguese monument in 1970.
As for Giraldo Square itself, the old Big Square of Evora, it was considered a Portuguese National Monument in 1910. Its floor is made of “Calçada Portuguesa” pavement. On the opposite side to the fountain you can see a branch of the Bank of Portugal, in a building which once had liaisons with the Inquisition. The facade is fantastic! Take a photo!
Underneath the arches on one side of Giraldo Square, the ones everybody seeks for its architecture and for the shadow they provide, you will find a whole assortment of shops and two essential places to visit: the famous Café Arcada, with some of the best cakes in town; and the Stationer’s Nazaré, the oldest in Évora.
On the opposite sides of the arches, there are more shops and, don’t forget, Evora Tourist Office, vital to get information on what to visit in Evora.
In the middle of Giraldo Square, sit on the esplanade and enjoy your moment of rest in Alentejo Portugal while you admire the beautiful facades in neoclassic and romantic styles. Pay attention to the interesting lamps spread across the square and the coat of arms at the top in honour of Fearless Geraldo Geraldes.
You should visit Giraldo Square slowly, on foot, to fully take in all the details it offers in every corner and the peaceful atmosphere it transmits to tourists and to all the inhabitants of Evora. Welcome to the heart of Evora!