It is an estate with an episcopal palace dating back to the start of the 16th century, close to the Valverde river, built on the initiative of the diocese or the bishop of Évora to act as a place of rest for its members. Later, Prince Henry founded a convent of Capuchin friars on the estate, whose community was established here in 1517.
There are many architectural remains of the original 16th century building, some Manueline in style such as the small chapel in the convent courtyard, paved with tiles dating from the first half of the 16th century. The highlight in what is known as the Garden of Jericho, is the Lago dos Cardeais (Cardinals’ Pond), started during the second half of the 17th century and decorated around a statue of Moses.
Also of architectural merit is the convent chapel. It is a perfect example of Renaissance micro-architecture, where the harmony of the layout and the centralised plan in the shape of a Greek cross display a rare degree of erudition and modernity for its time. Adjoining the convent chapel are the “Painted Houses” with a number of frescoes.
After the religious orders were abolished in 1834, the whole complex ended up in the hands of the State, which set up an Agricultural Station there, later the Practical School of Agriculture, and later still the Escola de Regentes Agrícolas (Agricultural Management School), which is still part of the University of Évora today.