I have in mind the first day I visited Évora. It was at the end of July 1997, with my parents and my sister, on a trip to the Algarve beaches, for our traditional summer holidays. At the time, I was preparing my application for university and, as I lived in Tomar, the appeal to go to study at the old university of Coimbra was unquestionable for me.
Even today I wonder what was the immediate fascination that Évora had in me. What was a simple stop for lunch on the way to the Algarve changed my life forever.
It was not more than 2 or 3 hours the time I stayed in Évora but I felt a huge attraction for this place. Whether it was the extraordinary historic center full of history and monuments from all ages or the blue sky in contrast to the white houses, I will never know the secret.
The sidewalk of the streets or the smile and genuineness of the people, the nature of the montado with the cork oaks and the multicolored fields, the craft shops and the very characteristic gastronomy must have contributed to my immediate surrender to this city. I immediately felt that this was my place, even though I didn’t know anyone in this city or had any connection to this land.
Whether it is an absence of 1 day or 1 month, I am always moved when I see, in the distance, the characteristic silhouette of the cathedral, as if embracing me on each return. After 24 years living in Évora, I realized that what had attracted me on that trip, which was already very distant, was just a detail of the charm that the Alentejo had on me. The treasures it contains are revealed over time and I see that they have also exerted an enchantment for most of the people who have visited me.
Évora Cultural Experience Was Born
The desire to share and be able to show the treasures of this region to the world was the main idea of this project that started in 2015, projected randomly during a dinner between two friends, in the middle of many conversations, dreams, projects and of course… a good red wine. Without realizing it, Évora Cultural Experience was born, which recently saw the birth of its younger brother, Portugal Cultural Experience.
In historic times never before experienced and in a pandemic context that has challenged and tested us in our resilience and will, the Portugal Cultural Experience project arises from the need to create another brand to include another great passion that is the Ribatejo region. It is my region of origin and where my family lives.
Since childhood, all the myths and legends associated with the mysterious Knights Templar have inhabited my imagination and have fueled my love for history and heritage. Having lived in Tomar for so many years and playing on the walls of the old Templar castle as in the old Indiana Jones films, impelled me, since I was a child, to avidly consume the books that the old librarian of the Tomar municipal library kept for me. I remember the smell of the old paper files while Mr. Isidro was looking for themes that I challenged him to find for me to read, when I was 11 or 12 years old.
Later, it was the Ribatejo fields that enchanted me, in its traditions and customs. The ancient city of Santarém, which is the guardian of the secrets of the Tagus River, contains many jewels that motivate my curiosity and allow me to live unique experiences. The enchantment of this region was not for me as immediate as the passion for Évora and the Alentejo was, but getting to know my region of origin better and better, it became very stimulating and rewarding to enjoy and share the unique and authentic experiences that Ribatejo has.
Toast to all our friends who visited us and who took a little of this love to all corners of the world and to the many who in the future will share this passion.