- Evora, an important Roman city called Liberalitas Julia, was a terrestrial crossroads of the imperial province of Lusitania.
- During the barbarian invasions, Evora was under Visigoth rule. It occupied a space defined by a Roman enclosure that had been modified.
- Following the conquest of the city by the Muslims in 715 A.D., the fortifications were improved.
- The Reconquest of the Christians in 1165 led to the integration of Evora into the independent kingdom of Portugal. This marked the beginning of a period of development which continued until the 16th century. Under the Aviz Dynasty (1385-1580), Evora became the second most important city of the kingdom after Lisbon. In the 16th century, Evora reached its golden era as witnessed by a number of architectural realisations.
- This was also the beginning of great Portuguese maritime expeditions, when the ports of call on the world's maritime route - Madeira, the Azores, and the Cape Verde Islands - were discovered.
- In the 17th century, a Vauban-type fortification was constructed. In the 18th century, the Company of Jesus, which had spread intellectual and religious enlightenment since the 16th century, was expelled, and Evora went into decline.
The city plan, which became fixed in principle during the16th century, developed in a radial fashion around the summit of the hill. At the limit of the old centre, which had an irregular layout, some of the city squares (Giraldo and the Moura Gate) provided points of departure for the urban axes that gave structure to the ensemble and extended out into the region. Between these axes, the urban area is crowded by networks of narrow streets, most often in a straight line, with varied orientation from one ensemble to another. Three successive fortifications (Roman, medieval and Vauban) enclosed the city.
Among the walls and the vestiges of walls, which are bordered with gardens, low white dwellings with tile roofs (or a terrace) ensure a unified architectural ensemble; this is enhanced by cast ironwork and azulejos. Numerous palaces and convents (constructed of granite in certain cases) of Manueline inspiration date to the 15th century. The 16th century, however, witnessed the construction of great works of architecture and urban planning, such as the aqueduct which dates to 1537 and numerous fountains.
"Evora is the finest example of a city of the golden age of Portugal after the destruction of Lisbon by the earthquake of 1755." (IV) "The cityscape of Evora alone can enable us to understand the influence exerted by Portuguese architecture in Brazil, in sites such as Salvador de Bahia (included on the World Heritage List in 1985)." (II)