The sparsely populated plains of Alentejo are dominated by vast cork and olive plantations - the two are suited to the low rainfall and poor soil of the region. The name derives from além do tejo, beyond the Tejo river.
The region major draw is Évora, whose roman temple, medieval walls and cathedral have placed it under Unesco protection. The hilltop village of Marvão and the marble town of Vila Viçosa were also worth visiting.
A Roman temple, Moorish alleys, a circuit of medieval walls, and an ensemble of sixteenth-century palaces and mansions make it a very enjoyable city. I also enjoyed the typical alentejan food and wine, one of the best produced in Portugal.
The ducal palace was the focus of my visit. Sadly, no photos were allowed inside during the mandatory guided tour. I enjoyed the collection of hand drawn lunch and dinner menus created by king Don Carlos.
It was bitterly cold inside the seventeenth century castle walls. In the village, stepped and cobbled streets, with whitewashed houses and impeccably kept gardens.