Ets’

The Press - Escape - - ESCAPE -

us as Maria leads us through the nar­row lanes, vis­it­ing a Ro­man Jacuzzi, a palace and a cathe­dral rich in hand-painted tiles and an or­nate gilded baroque al­tar­piece – ‘‘Brazil­ian gold,’’ says Maria grimly. ‘‘Enough to pay off our debts.’’

Then she takes us into a chapel that’s the essence of grim­ness. It’s lined and dec­o­rated with the skulls of 5000 poor peo­ple and un­count­able bones, a les­son to the rich that we are all the same un­der­neath, and fin­ish up the same.

It’s a re­lief to go into the streets again. The stu­dents are still be­ing pa­raded in their cos­tumes, old men sit chat­ting around the mar­ble foun­tain in the main square, tourists browse the sou­venir stalls, a pea­hen fusses af­ter her chicks be­neath a statue of da Gama. Ahead of us is an­other din­ner of pork and clams, al­mond pas­tries and pen­ny­royal liqueur. We’ve earned it.

Ibe­rian grandeur, left: Perched on its gran­ite out­crop, Mar­vao’s cas­tle and walled town has views to­wards Spain. Colour­ful lanes, right: The old part of Castelo de Vide is criss-crossed by steep, nar­row lanes full of flow­ers.

Gory his­tory: The mar­ble foun­tain in Evora’s main square, once the site for In­qui­si­tion ex­e­cu­tions, is an evening gath­er­ing place.

View from church: The hud­dled tile roofs of Castelo de Vide are dom­i­nated by the town’s out­sized church, Santa Maria da Devesa.

Fa­mil­iar sight: An­cient cork trees are a fea­ture of the Alen­tejo coun­try­side

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