The Alentejo lies less than three hours east of Lisbon. Vast windswept plains are dotted by bright whitewashed farmhouses and stands of olive and cork trees. Visitors come to see the spectacular fortress villages notable for their ancient architecture and colorful markets. Several of Portugal’s better pousadas — intimate inns housed within historic landmark structures — are to be found in this dramatic region. Évora, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is the unofficial capital of the Alentejo. The engaging walled town is filled with an impressive array of structures, some dating to Roman times. Renaissance palaces and medieval mansions line the narrow streets that radiate from a vibrant market square known as the Praça do Giraldo.

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