Évora, a medieval beauty in Portugal
January 1, 1970
by Alexandra Si
Évora, the capital of Alto Alentejo in Portugal, is one of the most historically important cities in the country. Due to the traces of its rich past, Évora’s historic center was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year of 1986.
Évora is located in the south of Portugal (Alentejo region), with unique characteristics, numerous attractions and tourist routes. This Portuguese city has about 50 thousand inhabitants and an important historic center which is bounded by medieval walls. The oldest core is surrounded by Roman walls and contains some of the most important monuments of the city and its ex-libris – the Roman Temple. Évora is mainly a city of services, having a great offer in terms of public services, banking and insurance which improves the everyday lives of its citizens and visitors.
The historic center of Évora is so incredibly rich in religious values.
There’s a list of some unbelievable places that you have to visit:
The Roman Temple
The Roman Temple is the iconic symbol of Évora par excellence and dominates the forgotten area of this old consecrated field. This monument has, architecturally, an unequal value, but it will always belong to the memorable pages of the history of this Portuguese region.
This Greco-Roman temple is unique in the country. Despite the destruction occurred throughout the years, this temple preserves the original plan of a perfect parallelogram.
The Temple of Évora, also known as the Temple of Diana, is the Roman architectural treasure of the Iberian Peninsula inspired by Merida, the capital of the province of Lusitania. Despite its proportions, this temple offers a harmonious framework of lines and shapes, and a more balanced grace and architectural beauty.
The São Francisco Church
It was in the Church of São Francisco where King Pedro I married to Queen Constança Manuel and due to this event, the Church of São Francisco was considered the Royal Chapel, hence the countless royal figures. At this time, the monastery lived its grandest moments, when the court of King Afonso V is installed in the space of the convent, which was the first home of the Franciscan Order in Portugal, founded in the twelfth century. In the nineteenth century, with the extinction of the Religious Orders, and due to the state of ruin, the monastery was almost all demolished. However, this beautiful church was preserved.
This is undoubtedly the most amazing and grandiose church of Évora; being built within a mendicant order reached the prerogative to turn into Chapel Royal. Thus, this church could grant privileges for the community and unprecedented privileges in the history of the religious house.
The Bones Chapel
The chapel is part of the famous Church of São Francisco. In the 16th century, there were more than 40 monastic cemeteries in the city. They occupied a very large space so this chapel was created to solve the problem of space in the city. The solution of the Franciscans was both creative and sinister: they thought of moving the corpses from the cemeteries to the chapel, using the bones as a form of decoration. It is estimated that the chapel has bones of five thousand monks, among skulls, tibias, femurs and vertebrae, arranged in walls, columns and ceilings in a macabre architecture. The chapel consists of three naves. The walls and eight pillars are covered with bones connected by brown cement. The vaults are painted with allegorical motifs.
The aqueduct of Évora is one of the largest aqueducts in Portugal and it was built in the sixteenth century. It still supplies to this day the city with water. This aqueduct is a great masterpiece of engineering at that time and one of the main monuments in Évora today, an integral part of the Historic Centre of Évora. This monument is recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Site and National Monument since 1910.
The aqueduct reveals a unique architectural grandeur. This building has a great importance in the social and architectural field with deep reflections on the history of Portugal.
This is a great example of the Roman baroque style due to the beauty, the richness of materials (Portuguese and Italian marble) and sculptural decoration which is unique in the south of Portugal. It is ennobled by ornaments produced by internationally renowned artists: Agostino Masucci.
The porch is ennobled by carved white marble. The cloister is the most important and balanced work of Gothic architecture in the region, built between 1322-1340 under the auspices of the prelate King Pedro IV – who lies in the sarcophagus.
The Garcia de Resende Theatre
It is one of the most representative Italian theatre type existing in Portugal. It is at the level of some theatres in Europe like the famous La Scala in Milan.
With a beautiful interior, the theater room that inspired a famous Portuguese writer, Eca de Queiroz, receives many shows every week.
The D. Manuel Palace
Located in the beautiful Public Garden and frequented in the past by the Portuguese nobility, D. Manuel Palace is a super stylish place to visit. Built by King Afonso V, in the year of 1468 under the name of Royal Palace of St. Francis and it occupied part of the great Convent of São Francisco. Currently, only the Ladies’ Gallery is available because with the extinction of orders religious in 1834, some official services were settled inside the Palace and parts of this beautiful monument were destroyed.
The Évora Museum
The Évora Museum is located in the old Archbishop’s Palace.
This museum has the Archbishop Manuel of the Cenacle collection – painting, archaeological pieces and coins – and also the spoils of churches and extinct convents and archaeological sites in the region. Évora Museum also includes the epigraphic collection of the father of archaeology in Portugal – André de Resende.
The thirteen paintings of old Flemish altarpiece of the Cathedral of Évora and the Renaissance sculptures are the most important collections of the Museum.
Évora is a city that you should visit. Successive historical times were perpetuated in the identity of this unique city, the first in Portugal to be considered world heritage. The harmonious interaction between the styles of various eras, from Roman times, offers an amazing tourist experience.