Go Discover Évora, a city with over 7000 years of history and 7000 years of monuments!
Évora one of the main cities of the province of upper Alentejo is located 120KM from Lisbon and easily reachable by highway or public transport. It is inland in the vast province of Alentejo close to the Spanish border and it is a city of many historical wonders, currently bustling with modern innovation.
Its location is on an elevated hill above the rural landscapes of Alentejo, famous for its cork trees, olives and wines and its lake, the Alqueva which is the largest dammed lake of Portugal, home to an amazing ecosystem of birds and wildlife and a place for many exciting water activities.
Évora has much evidance of early and very early habitation going back to 7000 years and it is one of the most interesting cities in Portugal to visit for all kinds of travel goals be it holiday or business.
Its earliest historical monuments, the Megaliths and Dolmen of Evora
The earliest evidance of ancient cultures who settled in Evora can be seen in the Cromeleque dos Almendres megaliths, 15KM from Evora and Anta Grande do Zambujeiro 10 KM from Evora.
The Megaliths rank as oldest and were a product of the Celtici that inhabited the area at the time. The oldest stones range from 5000 BC and the monument gained new construction and expansion until 3000 BC. It was accidentally rediscovered in the 1964 by Henrique Leonor Pina and excavated to reveal a site that was likely used as a ceremonial site or a primitive astronomical center. Some of the stones still bare remnants of their original markings which are mainly circular or contain dimples which does strengthen its possible relation to the night sky.
The age of the sites, at almost 7000 years, make the megaliths sites of Evora some of the oldest monuments in Europe
The Roman city of Ebora
Once one the main cities of the Roman empire as it it inhabited Iberia, Evora or Ebora as it was called in Roman times was a city of temples and monuments. The roman temple of Diana, as it has been known since the 17th century is the only monument left of this period in Evora. It is located on the highest elevation of Evora in its main square.
Since the reconquista of Portugal from the Moorish in the 12th and 13th centuries and the birth of Portugal, the square became occupied with grande building and originally a castle. The buidling remained but the castle was dismantled. The temple of Diana is one of the best remaining examples of Roman architecture in Portugal and the only temple in the country.
Evora thrived particularly during the Avis Dynasty (1385–1580) and became a capital for the humanities. Build on the heritage of a Moorish street plan, many monuments erected during this period. Some of the best remaining examples that can be viewed inside its city walls are the Fountain of Portas de Moura built in 1556, Holy Spirit College of the Order of Christ today part of the University of Evora, built in 1559, remnants of the Royal Palace of Evora built in 1497, The Prata Aquaduct built in 1531, The Cathedral of Evora built between 1280 and 1340, The Chapel of São Brás built in 1480, Saint Francis Church (Igreja de São Francisco): Built between the end of the 15th and the early 16th and the Loios convent built in the 15th century. All these monuments and the shear beauty of Evora have contributed to its UNESCO world heritage status
The Chapel of Bones
By far the reason most people travel to Evora is to see its famous Capela dos Ossos translated as the chapel of bones. Not unique for its use of human bones in the architecture and decoration of chapels in Europe in the late 16th and 17th centuries but the only example of a chapel that has not only been decorated with human skeletal remains but also fully constructed with them.
The 16th and 17th centuries were a time when the pest spread its black wings through Europe killing a large part of the population and the graveyards suffered an unsolvable problem of overcrowding. It was a Franciscan monk in the 16th century that found a solution and that was to use the bones to build a chapel with that would be used as a message to each person visiting it. The message being clear, death will come to us all and life is short and should be lived in a proper manner.
We bones that here are, for yours await
The skeletons, now lying on a soft pillow bed used to hang from the walls as a dramatic reminder to all and on the ceiling is inscribed the text “Melior est die mortis die nativitatis (Better is the day of death than the day of birth)”.
To remind its visitors of the briefness of life above the entrance is enscribed the text Nós ossos que aqui estamos pelos vossos esperamos (“We bones that here are, for yours await”).
And in the chapel is a poem by Fr. António da Ascenção (translation by Fr. Carlos A. Martins, CC)
Where are you going in such a hurry traveler?
Stop … do not proceed;
You have no greater concern,
Than this one: that on which you focus your sight.
Recall how many have passed from this world,
Reflect on your similar end,
There is good reason to reflect
If only all did the same.
Ponder, you so influenced by fate,
Among the many concerns of the world,
So little do you reflect on death;
If by chance you glance at this place,
Stop … for the sake of your journey,
The more you pause, the further on your journey you will be.
To some a morbid experience and a place of death to others an architectural wonder and a reminder of an almost forgotten darker time in European history.
Modern day Evora
Évora is ranked number two in the Portuguese most livable cities survey and thanks to its university, it has a trendy and young character. It has a high level of luxury hotels, accommodation and restaurants, as well as more local areas. Activities are many and very diverse from rural hands on traditional discoveries such as bread making, pottery making, olive picking, horse riding and others to city discoveries, guided tours, wine tastings and workshops, balloon flights, sky dive and cooking lessons Evora provides everything one could need for a perfect holiday, corporate or private event!
The nicest activities in Evora, other than viewing its monuments and enjoying the food and relaxed atmosphere Ballooning, Skydive, traditional workshops, Wine tastings and workshops, horse riding, cooking workshops.
To see some of our activities, please read here >>
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