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  • Benedita Macedo Sampaio

Continuing the architectural heritage of Évora

Qualive is expanding to the capital of Alentejo. We are working in Évora to revive its architectural heritage.

“This museum-city, whose roots go back to Roman times, reached its golden age in the 15th century when it became the residence of the Portuguese kings. Its unique quality stems from the whitewashed houses decorated with "azulejos" and wrought-iron balconies dating from the 16th to the 18th century. Its monuments had a profound influence on Portuguese architecture in Brazil.”

-- UNESCO description of the historic center of Évora.


Other Portuguese authors gave them continuity, like in a city guide published by Bertrand in 1929, in which Évora is described as:


“Capital of the kingdom, the great focus of culture, rich in monuments, with an air of grandeur, of the most typical cities in the country, Ever-beautiful and Museum of Portugal.”

(Évora. Excursões na Cidade e Arredores. Lisboa: Bertrand, 1929, p. 3 e 4)


photo credit Viver Évora


Évora was consolidated either for its history or for the monuments that still conserve inexhaustible relics of art and beauty. It is with this image that the population feels identified, limited to the main monuments of the most representative historical periods.


But the current architecture of the city has particular and interesting details that should be mentioned. The city develops through the mass compact headquarters, not fully aligned shapes that have given a language to the city. Their uniformity and configuration go through the schematic to a chromatic simplicity.


The mass of these anonymous buildings is occasionally interrupted by amplified scales of some notable buildings, represented realistically to the detail of the most characteristic architectural elements. The combination of these two factors, elevation, and detail, makes buildings figured in poles of visual attraction, giving them an important symbolism in the context of the image of the city that the author intended to show, which is, by the way, for all the characteristics mentioned above, that of a city still medieval.


This variation of forms resulted in a city with irregular profiles, in whose dwellings and other buildings elements, spaces, and full forms coexist from different eras that born from current needs or fashions, resulting from appropriations or reuse of pre-existences, and adapted empirically, where Manueline arches stand out with a modern window or confront with a baroque tile panel, and overlapping surfaces composed of materials from different ages, sometimes torn by arches of variable formats - like arcades that surround Geraldo's square.


photo credit Viver Évora


Evora represents the concept of urban heritage that comprises the city in movement enfolded with the past, like a complex entity regarding the provisions of the International Charter on Safeguarding the Historic 1987 City:


"All the world's cities, to be the result of a development process more or less spontaneous or a deliberate project, are the material expression of the diversity of societies throughout its history.”

The historic city itself constitutes a monument, but at the same time, it is a living tissue. We shouldn’t want a “museum city” that represents an ideal past. Instead, we should show the concrete reality of its past, made of advances and setbacks, of dynamism and paralysis, of expansions and depressions, of great personalities and common people, all active factors in the development of the city.


Qualive’s architecture team is conceptualizing building revitalization projects to bring part of the ancient city’s history back to life. Qualive envisions to enrich the already existing architectural wonder, add value to underutilized historic assets, and by doing so, to contribute to the cultural and architectural heritage of Évora.


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