“Wanderings in Evora”
Evora, Portugal. May 2019. (12 photos)
About a 90 minute bus ride to the east of Lisbon, one finds the city of Evora, the capital of Portugal’s south-central Alentejo region. Just like many other towns and cities in Portugal, it has its share of whitewashed painted houses, cobblestone roads, narrow laneways and pastelarias.
“The ancient walled city of Evora”
More than that, Evora has a history dating back more than five millennia.
The Romans conquered the town in 57 BC and expanded it into a walled town. During the barbarian invasions, Evora came under the rule of the Visigothic king Leovigild in 584. In 715, the city was conquered by the Moors under Tariq ibn-Ziyad. Evora was wrested from the Moors through a surprise attack by Gerald the Fearless (Geraldo Sem Pavor) in September 1165. The town came under the rule of the Portuguese king Afonso I in 1166. It then flourished as one of the most dynamic cities in the Kingdom of Portugal during the Middle Ages, especially in the 15th century. In the 19th-century, Evora declined in national power, as a result of the War of Two Brothers. In 1834, Évora was the site of the surrender of the forces of King Miguel I, which marked the end of the Liberal Wars. The many monuments erected by major artists of each period now testify to Évora’s lively cultural and rich artistic and historical heritage.
The variety of architectural styles (Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, Renaissance, Baroque), the palaces and the picturesque labyrinth of squares and narrow streets of the city centre are all part of the rich heritage of this UNESCO World Heritage site.
Forever and Evora just seem to be synonymous.
“Praca do Giraldo”
The main square of the historic centre. In the background is the Igreja de Santo Antão. The Square is famous for 2 reasons:
The most historic significant event that occurred in the Praca do Giraldo was the beheading of the Duke of Braganza in 1484 by his brother-in-law, King John II. King John II ordered the death of his brother-in-law as the duke was in league with the Spanish nobility to overthrow the Portuguese king.
Later on the Praca do Giraldo was a regional court for the Spanish Inquisitions, which in total condemned over 22,000 people in a 200 year period. In 1573 convicts of the court were burnt alive on giant pyres that were constructed in the centre of the square, quite possibly the same spot where I was sitting calmly drinking my espresso.
“Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Graca”
Built in 1511, the beautiful design of this old church and convent stands the test of time. Currently this convent is used by the Portuguese Armed Forces.
“Nos ossos que aqui estamos pelos vossos esperamos”
Translated as, “We bones that here are, for yours await”
The Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones) is one of the best known monuments in Evora. It is a small chapel located inside the Igreja de São Francisco (Church of St Francis).
“Forever in Evora”
The Chapel of Bones gets its name because the interior walls are covered and decorated with human skulls and bones. It was built in the 16th century by a Franciscan friar who, in the Counter-Reformation spirit of that era, wanted to prod his fellow brothers into contemplation and transmit the message of life being transitory.
If it interests you, last year I visited and posted about the Bone Church in Kutna Hora in the Czech Republic.
“Let’s continue walking around town”
“Up on the roof”
It shouldn’t surprise you that within the historic centre of Evora there is a Cathedral (Se de Evora). This is the seat of the Archdiocese of Evora. However, it did surprise me that they let you walk on the roof of the Cathedral which I was happy to do and take photos…
Ruins of a first century Roman Temple, with the Igreja de São João Evangelista (Church of St John the Baptist) founded in 1485 nearby.
“Forever and Evora”
Just outside the walls of the city there’s an interesting cemetery.
Of course, this is just a glimpse of Evora. There’s a lot more including a Roman Aqueduct and many other beautiful buildings and parks. In hindsight I should have stayed for a night or two in Evora.
This is Part 11 of this photographic series and Part 7 of the posts about Portugal.