Evora (November 26, 2019)

Vintage trams are one of the iconic sights in Lisbon. Since we had a late start today Murphy figured out how to use the tram and chose a short circle trip that gave us the experience. Without a day pass the fare was three euro. After a leisurely breakfast Armando picked us and our luggage up for the two hour ride to Evora, a town steeped in Roman and medieval heritage, about 90 minutes from Lisbon.

The Romans were the first to settle Evora, building its wall and leaving behind the ruins of a temple. The city’s golden age came in the 1400s when Portugal’s kings chose it for their home. It boasts the second oldest university in the country, a cathedral, convent, well-maintained town center, and a museum. Our focus was on two other attractions however: the Capela dos Ossos and Almendres Cromlech.

The small, unassuming Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones) is part of the Igreja de Sao Francisco church complex. The main entrance to the Chapel of Bones greets visitors with this inscription: “We, the bones that are here, await yours.” The intimate chapel is the final resting place of hundreds of bodies, all exhumed by necessity from the city’s graveyards in the 16th century. Their bones, 5,000 in all, were respectfully incorporated into every aspect of the chapel’s interior. They were intricately cast into the cement from floor to ceiling. Skulls line the roof, walls, and columns. The beautiful ceiling and stunning alter in gold, white, and aqua at the end of the chapel are beautifully and subtly lit, so the bones and skulls were unbelievably not the first things we noticed.

We visited the ancient site of Almendres Cromlech in the pouring rain! A feat because it is only accessible from a one-and-a-half lane dirt road through a cork forrest. Built over several different periods between 5000 and 4000 BC, these Neolithic (later part of the Stone Age) structures remained undiscovered until 1966. The 95 almond-shaped, lichen-covered, boulder-sized stones are arranged in two concentric rings–an eastern circle and a larger one in the west. Many of the stones seem to have been positioned to align with the moon, sun, and stars. Some of the huge stones, many taller than anyone in our group, have carvings on them of circles, spirals, crescents, dimples, and inverted shepherds’ crooks.

We stayed the night in Albergaria do Calvario, better known as ADC Evora, tucked inside the city walls. We were surprised to learn that the couple who own the hotel is comprised of an American husband and a Brazilian wife. They provided us with a lovely lunch before we explored their fine town and made reservations for us at their favorite restaurant for dinner: Taberna Tipica Quarta-Feira. It was on a side street off the main drag and so unassuming we almost walked passed it. We all agreed it might have been the best of the fabulous meals we had had so far. And that is saying a lot because all we have done is eat wonderfully prepared food. We were told there would be no need to order, we were expected and food would be prepared for us. Pork cheeks and pork neck were the main course. Between courses we entertained ourselves answering questions from the conversation cards I brought along.

We were grateful for the walk back to the hotel after dinner. We were the only ones on the quiet, wet, cobbled streets. An ancient aqueduct was embedded into the street for part of the walk back. We all agreed it was the perfect end to another wonderful day.

… So What … 

Tipping is not expected in restaurants.

Northwest Portugal is the only place in the world that produces Vinho Verde.
This green wine can be made white, rose, and red. We enjoyed it as often as it was offered.

Portugal was the first country to use a single electronic toll system on its highways. We used them when we were on toll roads.

Pointing is considered bad manners in Portugal.

Portuguese marmelada is a thick, copper-red spread produced out of quince.
It’s nothing at all like its cousin, British marmalade. We loved it.



2 thoughts on “Evora (November 26, 2019)

  1. Great explanation of the Bones Chapel.

    Matt Mongeon, PMP, Technical Project Manager II
    Engineering Management Office
    PMP,ITIL Foundation, RCV, OSA, SOA, PPO
    5159 Federal Blvd., San Diego, CA 92105
    • 619.266.5675 (ex. 55675) |( 619.822.4661 | • matt.mongeon@cox.com


  2. Fascinating day! You are the best teacher/tour guide! You explain and describe everything in such a way that is so interesting and informative!


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