Évora, Portugal 10/13
Another day, another castle, another church and another ruin. We just can’t seem to pass them up. After a somewhat strange night spent next to a sports complex where kids were practicing soccer until midnight, that’s when the dogs started barking. We are starting to learn that there is virtually no place in Portugal where there aren’t two or more neurotic dogs who sleep all day and bark all night at nothing.
In the morning we drove to the medieval, (I think it was medieval), town of Évora, an UNESCO World Heritage Site and member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network. Évora is famous for several things including a Roman temple, the Gothic cathedral, the Palace of Vasco da Gama and the Cadaval Palace built on the ruins of a Moorish Castle.
One look at the narrow cobblestone streets built back when chariots were the normal mode of transportation clearly told us this was no place for our truck. We parked on the outskirts, entered one of the old city gates and walked along the 16th century aqueduct “of Silver Water” to explore the town.
St. Francis Church from the 15/16th century contains many chapels decorated in elaborate gold leaf Baroque style and the wide nave is a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture. The details of the blue Azulejo tile pictures always amaze us but what intrigued us more than the church was the adjacent “Bones Chapel”. This chapel was originally built as a place of prayer and meditation for the Franciscans in the XVI century and was constructed using the bones of the graves of the town. The inscription at the entrance reads, “We are the bones that are here. We are waiting for yours”. The interior is completely covered with human bones and skulls which gives it a rather solemn, gloomy or even morbid atmosphere like a crypt. We had seen something like this in Peru many years ago but done in a different style.