October 27, 2015
Our first morning in Evora was rainy. We ate breakfast in the hotel, a meager meal of ham and cheese and coffee americano.
We were staying at the
Pensao Policarpo, well located and
cheap; charming, too, if you don't have your glasses on and don't need hot water.
Evora is said to be a town for the young and the old, university students and retirees, but not much in between.
Sort of like Victoria, home of the newly wed and almost dead.
On the main square we saw a lot of retirees during the day. A popular morning gathering place is in front of the CME board (Camara Municipal de Evora or municipality of Evora) where obituaries are posted. At night the university students came out, filling the cafes and squares.
The town was first settled by the Romans in the second century BC and it has some Roman ruins and a long aqueduct. So our plan for the day was to check out these sights by doing Rick Steves' city walk. We saw city hall, Roman ruins, the cathedral with bone chapel, and the aqueduct. Lunch was quiche, cappuccino, and pastry at what became our go-to cafe, Restaurante Muralha.
Inside city hall we saw the ruins of a Roman bath, discovered while excavating under the building.
Next to Saint Francis Church is the Chapel of Bones (Capela dos Ossos), a room that is almost completely covered with human bones.
Over the doorway is the inscription We bones in here wait for yours to join us.
Three monks created the chapel as a place to meditate on the transience of material things surrounded by reminders of mortality. Creepy and also a bit Halloween.
Saint Francis Church itself is not one of your better looking churches.
The outside is nondescript and the inside is garish, with walls of statuary covered with Trumpian gold leaf.
Adding to the the effect was the plastic doll-like faces on some of the sculptures.
Doesn't help that I'd overdosed on Biblical scenes by this point in the trip.
Tonight's dinner was at Salsa Verde, a vegetarian buffet. It was good though the proprietor's coughing was disconcerting.
City seal: knight riding over two Moorish heads