Evora, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a city in Portugal’s Alentejo region, known for its well-preserved Roman ruins, charming medieval streets, and unique historical sites. One of the most fascinating aspects of Evora is its macabre yet captivating connection to bones. We will take you on a journey through Evora, highlighting two must-see attractions: the Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones) and the University of Evora.
Capela dos Ossos: A Memento Mori Masterpiece
The Capela dos Ossos, also known as the Bone Church, is a small church adorned with the bones of over 5,000 monks from the 16th and 17th centuries. The walls, ceiling, and remarkable eight pillars are lined with meticulously arranged skulls and bones, serving as a stark reminder of mortality. The haunting beauty of the Capela dos Ossos is both unsettling and thought-provoking.
Founded in 1559, the University of Evora is one of the oldest universities in Portugal and a testament to the city’s rich academic heritage. The university’s buildings, adorned with intricate azulejo tiles and Manueline architectural elements, transport visitors back to a bygone era of scholarly pursuits. The Sala dos Actos (Hall of Acts), with its painted ceiling and carved wooden benches, is a particularly impressive space. Take a stroll through the university’s courtyards and gardens, soak in the atmosphere of knowledge and history, and imagine the lives of students who walked these halls centuries ago.
Beyond Bones and Books: Exploring Evora’s Charm
While the Bone Church and the University of Evora are undoubtedly highlights, the city has much more to offer. Wander through the cobbled streets of the historic center, admiring the colorful houses and traditional shops. Visit the imposing Roman Temple of Diana, a testament to the city’s ancient past. Climb the Torre de Menagem, the tallest tower in Evora, for stunning panoramic views. Sample the local cuisine, savor the sweet and rich Pastel de Nata pastries, and lose yourself in the enchanting atmosphere of this captivating city.
Planning Your Trip to Evora:
Evora is easily accessible by train or bus from Lisbon. The best time to visit is during the spring or fall when the weather is mild and pleasant. Several hotels and guesthouses cater to tourists, offering comfortable accommodations within the city walls.
Evora is a city that leaves a lasting impression. The stark beauty of the Capela dos Ossos, the grandeur of the University of Evora, and the charming streets of the historic center all contribute to a unique and unforgettable experience. Whether you’re interested in history, art, or simply soaking up the atmosphere of a bygone era, Evora is a city that deserves to be explored.