We arrived at Beja early enough to walk into town for the afternoon. We had our guide book and list of things to see. But everything was closed...it was Monday and we had forgotten that most things are closed! However we poked our heads into the local church and were waved in by three old women sitting at a table at the entrance. Here we had a treat. The walls were lined with not the usual overwrought baroque decoration but by huge panels of blue and white tiles apparently telling stories from the life of John the Baptist. The castle, or rather the castle keep as there was nothing in it, was free but the tower supposedly had a small charge to climb it. However there was no-one around, the doors were open and we got a free climb.
With those two bits done we decided to return in the morning and see the rest. The Convento de Nossa Senhora da Conceição was a pretty building which was once a convent and is now one of the town's little museums. A ticket here also gave us entry to two other museums. The convent had a stunning chapel, cloisters, a decorated Chapter House, rooms of 14th century artworks, marvellous hand-painted tiles, and Roman artefacts and mosaics. It was well set out, just the right size and with interesting variety. Next stop on our ticket, a fancy new building covering a Roman bath complex. We had to put cloth 'shower-caps' over our shoes to walk on the glass floor which completely covered the excavated remains beneath. And lastly, to a Visigothic church, dating from the 6th century, making it the oldest still standing building in Portugal. Very little remains of the Visigoths who ousted the Romans but who were themselves overrun by the Moors after only about 200 years. So with a little museum devoted to Visigothic remains sounded really interesting. Well, it was - up to a point. The most interesting item was a sword still with some of the scabbard and of the wooden handle. But with just a few scattered bits and pieces of carved and engraved stone, there just wasn't quite enough!
With a detour to the Barragem d'Alquelve, Europe's largest reservoir and a drive across the dam wall, we head north to Évora.