A Grand 17th-Century Townhome for $180,000 in the Alentejo

I’m a cynic. I’ve traveled enough and read enough about travels to firmly doubt most things. Like my grandpa used to say: “Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see.”

But I’ve seen the light.

That is, I’ve seen the rose-hued glow of an Alentejo sky and it really does have the “special quality” touted by the guidebooks.

Something about this region’s place on the globe no doubt…latitudes, longitudes…

Or maybe it’s magic.

The Alentejo is a magical part of Portugal. You’ll find walled medieval towns and cliff-hanging villages that glow brilliant white. In the shade of holm and cork oak trees, pigs snuffle for acorns. In spring wild flowers carpet the ground. It feels uncrowded, undiscovered, and a little bit lost in time.

Evora is the capital of the Alentejo. I’ve seen a lot of old heritage towns but Evora is something special. It’s a university town anchored by a roman temple, studded with 17th- century mansions and surrounded by a medieval wall.

Buildings are white and fringed with borders of pastel-yellow. Orange trees provide shade in plazas and squares. The pace of life here is seductive. The food is delicious. And the cost of living is very low. It’s convenient and civilized, with a fish market, a fruit market, and free WiFi in public places.

You’ll find tourists here. The coutry’s most visited region, the Algarve, is only a few hours drive to the south. Evora’s historic center is suffering what some call “the curse of UNESCO.” Being named a heritage site by this UN body means a property can be costly to renovate, update, or modernize. That’s one reason you’ll find so many empty properties in the old town.

I found this fixer-upper in the Santo Antao district going for $180,000.

It’s 3,767 square feet and inside you’ll find walls decorated with the hand-painted tiles the region is famous for.

If a labor of love doesn’t suit you and you fancy something more turn-key, there’s an 847-square-foot, two-bedroom town home in the historic center going for $99,000. It’s just a three-minute walk from one of Evora’s most pleasant squares, the Praca do Geraldo.

Once used by the Inquisition for executions, this square is now the ideal place for a custard tart and a coffee.

If you want a bigger property, one in good order, then $250,000 is the asking price for a four-bedroom townhouse just outside the historic center close to the university. It’s 2,336 square feet.

As with the Coimbra region (which I wrote about yesterday) many foreign buyers prefer to get out into the villages of the Alentejo. You’ll find all sorts of fixer-uppers but also some stylish country homes.

To really spare no expense, then just 15 minutes’ drive from Evora is a typical Alentejo farmhouse with four bedrooms and three bathrooms. It has been totally modernized and sits on two acres with a swimming pool and plenty of outbuildings. The asking price is $440,000 but…well…that’s the “asking” price.


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