Evora Walls are one of the wonders of the city and they have the power to take us to immemorial times. They are classified as National Monument in Portugal since 1922 and are part of the historic centre of Evora World Heritage Unesco.
Évora is one of the few Portuguese cities that, through times, has maintained its old walls nearly untouched. King Afonso IV ordered the construction of Évora Wall in the 15th century.
As a whole, the defence ramparts are constituted by the towers and walls that set the limits of the medieval city. So, we have the following towers to see: Torre da Rampa dos Colegiais; do Baluarte de São Bartolomeu; do Jardim Público de Évora (Evora Public Garden); das Portas de Aviz; the ones near Convento do Calvário (convent); and between the Baluarte do Conde de Lippe (bulwark) and the Quartel de Cavalaria (headquarters).
Evora Walls, also known as “Cerca Romana” (Roman Enclosure), make up a defensive set of military architecture, erected throughout the centuries.
The oldest wall was built in the 3rd century, during the romanisation period, and it spreads across an area of about 10 hectares (24.7 acres), nearly 2 km (1.25 mi) long. It went around the high part of the city, where today we find Evora Cathedral.
Well defined by the outer wall, Evora historic centre, still today, is the political, administrative, economical and social centre of the city.
The defensive system of Evora is formed by tow lines of walls that correspond to different periods in time. The second line resulted from the enlargement of the housing area beyond the first wall perimeter and from the need to protect that new core part.
The first wall, known as “Cerca-velha” (Old Wall) is of Roman-medieval construction. It is characterised by several towers of different shapes: square, circular and polygonal. It is also marked by various tours strategically positioned over the main transport routes. An important legacy from that period is Porta de D.Isabel (door). Entering Evora historic centre means having to go through one of these doors.
The second wall, known as Cerca-nova (New Wall), is of medieval construction, from the 16th century. It has been reinforced over the years and during the 17th century it was strengthened with a few very advanced bastions.
The walls of Evora have a great variety of styles, marked by the several changes and restorations made in different time periods by different peoples like Romans, Visigoths, Moors and Medieval Portuguese. They have been used as fortified defence lines and, from the 16th century onward, were adapted to the use of artillery.
From the Visigoth era, we have Torre Quadrangular (Square Tower), or Torre de Sisebuto (a Visigoth king), said to have been responsible by the construction of the wall in the 7th century. However, we know that this tower is of late Roman construction (3rd century). It is an element that is part of the most archaic defensive structure of the city and, for that reason, has suffered a lot of alterations.
We don’t know for sure the structure of the wall during the Islamic period but there are some traces from that time on the back of the Cathedral and in Evora Roman Temple.
If you want to have a more real perception of this great set of walls, you can walk around its whole perimeter. This way, you will be able to appreciate closely, with no concerns for car traffic. You can leave your car in one of the different exterior car parks in Evora and then go in through one of the doors that give you access to the city centre.
That will surely be a nice walk. You will enjoy the landscaping treatment given to the present outside wall area. Relax and take your time hiking.