The Portuguese Plains

If you drive East from Lisbon, then it takes you less than an hour to reach the Portuguese plains. This is a vast area, stretching from the Algarve in the South all the way up to the river Tagus in the North, where the Portuguese mountains begin, and in the East it borders on Spain (where you will find similar landscapes). The Plains are no official region, being divided into several smaller administrative units.

Their climate is very dry by European standards. In the Plains it rains a lot less than in the rest of the country. Even in the summer, the dry air makes the heat quite convenient, and the pleasant Atlantic breeze adds to this effect. Most tourists like to visit Portugal's coastline, but out in the Plains you can find something very precious in today's world: Peace and quiet.

The people there have a relaxed attitude towards life, and Lisbon's business community appreciates this very much: Having a weekend house in the Plains is for many of them a great source of recovering from their hectic lives. The Plains have a mostly agricultural atmosphere (they are often called Portugal's "bread basket"), and among many other crops, grapes and olives are grown. Most of the farmers still live in their traditional white one-storey houses, which gives the region an exquisite charm. You will find several national parks, the most well-known being the Serra de São Mamede Natural Park, which is famous for its huge variety of Mediterranean species. Its cork oak forest is beautiful and at the same time deeply mystifying.

With a population of just over 40 thousand, Évora is the Plains' largest town, and also the capital of the historic region of Alentejo, which has an amazing history. It was known as "Ebora" even in pre-Roman times! Caesar's men then built the famous Temple of Évora, which is one of the most important Roman monuments in Portugal still in existence. In 1559 the University of Évora was opened, then as a Jesuit college. Portugal's second-oldest uni has a vibrant student community, which makes life in Évora even more exciting than it would otherwise be.

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