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Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Macabre Enchantment of Evora

Evora city wall

We arrived at the historic mountain walled-town of Évora (a huge castle in itself with an outer and inner wall) after the siesta, shortly before sunset. We drove up to the centre square where we parked and were about to go walking when we saw a bunch of cops at the other end of the square so having chatted them up for a 15 minute stad on the loading zone we actually found a good park and walked up the narrow streets to the Roman temple and Cathedral.

Ascending the calle to the main square

... further up and the square is in sight!

elderly woman waiting for a ride ...

Church in the main square

Two panoramas circling the square

The narrow streets leading to the Cathedral and Roman temple

Roman temple

View from the city walls by the temple

The cathedral from various viewpoints

The interior

One classic macabre feature of Évora which we didn't manage to see given our late arrival and hurried departure to look for a place to camp is the Chapel of the Bones, which I have included in the blog as a research addition.

The church housing the chapel of the skulls

The Igreja Real de São Francisco (Royal Church of St. Francis) in Évora is best known for its chapel that is not for the faint of heart. In the Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones), the walls and central pillars are covered with human skulls and other parts of skeletons, held together by cement. The church was built between 1460 and 1510.

Church interior

Its Capela dos Ossos was created by a few Franciscan monks in the 16th century as a practical solution to a problem - as many as 42 monastic cemeteries were taking up valuable space in Evora, so they moved all the bones to a single consecrated chapel. Seeing an opportunity to contemplate and communicate the inevitability of death, the monks chose to display the bones prominently.

Entrance to the skull chapel

Evora from the road south

Then in the early evening we drove on south through the little hill town of Alvito with a castle and church, before heading out to an isolated camp site on the shores of a lagoon, Barragen de Alvito, 15 kms out of town, which was quiet, if expensive at 22 euros.

Stork nests provided on poles

Coming into Alvito

Alvito castle

Barragem de Odivelas

The camp site by the lake

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