Évora: Praça do Giraldo, the Jardim Público, the Igreja de São Francisco & Capela dos Ossos

Wednesday, July 17:  After visiting the Cathedral,  I take a long walk to the far side of town and I discover (Voila!) this is where all the tourists are!  I have been on the quiet side of town and wondered why I seemed to have Évora all to myself.

I finally come across Giraldo Square (Praça do Giraldo), which is considered the center of the city. The Renaissance fountain (fonte Henriquina) dates from 1570. Its eight jets symbolize the eight streets leading into the square.

the Renaissance fountain in Giraldo Square
the Renaissance fountain in Giraldo Square

At the northern end of the square lies St. Anton’s church (Igreja de Santo Antão), also from the 16th century.  In 1483 Fernando II, Duke of Braganza, was decapitated on this square, in the presence of his brother-in-law King John II.  This square also witnessed thousands of autos-da-fé (rituals of public penance of condemned heretics and apostates that took place when the Portuguese Inquistion had decided their punishment, followed by the execution by the civil authorities of the sentences imposed) during the period of the Inquisition; 22,000 condemnations, it seems, in about 200 years (Wikipedia: Évora).

Igreja de Santo Antão
Igreja de Santo Antão at the north end of Praça do Giraldo
Igreja de Santo Antão
Igreja de Santo Antão

I stop at a cafe in the square for a little bowl of bean soup for lunch.

lunchtime!
lunchtime!

I’m in search of the St. Francis Church, known in Portuguese as the Igreja de São FranciscoI find it, but when I arrive it is after 1:00 and it’s closed for siesta time.  It opens again at 2:30, so I have some time to kill.  I don’t want to walk all the way back to the other side of town, so instead I visit the Jardim Público de Évora, just south of the Church.

the entrance to Jardim Público
the entrance to Jardim Público
Jardim Público
Jardim Público
Architectural features in Jardim Público
Architectural features in Jardim Público
Jardim Público
Jardim Público
Jardim Público
Jardim Público

It’s quite hot at this time of day.  Sometimes I wonder why on earth I’m out here in the heat while everyone else is taking a siesta!  I sit down next to a fountain just to hear the sound of the flowing water and imagine being cool.

fountain in Jardim Público
fountain in Jardim Público

On the way out, I encounter these pretty peacocks and I keep waiting and hoping they will spread out their feathers for a turquoise and green color extravaganza.  They never oblige me with a show.😦

wandering peacocks in Jardim Público
wandering peacocks in Jardim Público
peacocks in Jardim Público
peacocks in Jardim Público
love the colorful feathers
love the colorful feathers
peacocks in Jardim Público
peacocks in Jardim Público
peacock in Jardim Público
peacock in Jardim Público

I find this little Moorish inspired pavilion, where I take shelter in the shade for a few moments.

in Jardim Público
in Jardim Público
Jardim Público
Jardim Público

And I find this pretty little garden as I make my way out.

Jardim Público
Jardim Público

When I leave the gardens, the Church of St. Francis is still not open, so I wander up the street a bit, where I make a brief stop to admire the Largo da Graça, a church nearby that’s designated as a national monument.  It too is closed for siesta.

Largo da Graça
Largo da Graça
Largo da Graça
Largo da Graça

Since all the sights seem to be closed for siesta, I find a little bakery where I stop for a cold drink and a pastel de nata.  I think I’m developing an addiction to these sweet delectable treats.

pastéis de nata
pastel de nata

Finally, when I return to St. Francis Church, I head straight for one of the chapels decorated in Baroque style, the Capela dos Ossos, or the Chapel of Bones, totally covered with human bones.  First I enter through the Chapter House, which was transformed at the end of the 19th century into the Capela dos Passos.  The space was decorated with tile paneling alluding to the Passion of Christ.

entrance to the Capela dos Ossos
entrance to the Capela dos Ossos
entrance to the Capela dos Ossos
entrance to the Capela dos Ossos
The Chapter House of the Capela dos Ossos
The Chapter House of the Capela dos Ossos
The Chapter House of the Capela dos Ossos
The Chapter House of the Capela dos Ossos
Chapter House of the Capela dos Ossos
Chapter House of the Capela dos Ossos
The Chapter House of the Capela dos Ossos
The Chapter House of the Capela dos Ossos

Built in the first half of the 17th century, as an extension of the Chapter House of the Convent of São Francisco, the Chapel of Bones is an invitation to reflect on the transitory nature of the human condition, summarized in the words above its entrance: WE BONES HERE, FOR YOURS AWAIT (Nós ossos que aqui estamos pelos vossos esperamos).

Capela dos Ossos
Capela dos Ossos

The walls and columns are lined with the carefully arranged bones and skulls of some 5,000 people, held together by cement.  Most of the bones came from the cemeteries that were situated inside several dozen churches. Some of these skulls have been scribbled with graffiti.   Two desiccated corpses, one of which is a child, dangle from a chain (Wikipedia: Capela dos Ossos). According to Lonely Planet Portugal, 17th century Franciscan monks constructed this as a memento mori (reminder of death).

Capela dos Ossos
Capela dos Ossos
Capela dos Ossos
Capela dos Ossos
Capela dos Ossos
Capela dos Ossos
Capela dos Ossos
Capela dos Ossos

The ceiling’s decoration, dating from 1810 and full of symbols, allegories and quotations from the Holy Scriptures, affirms another life in the glory of God.

ceiling in the Capela dos Ossos
ceiling in the Capela dos Ossos

I then go next door to St. Francis Church, or the Igreja de São Francisco, which was built between the end of the 15th and the early 16th centuries in mixed Gothic-Manueline styles. It was dedicated to St. Francis. The wide nave is a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture. Legend has it that the Portuguese navigator Gil Vicente is buried here (Lonely Planet Portugal).

Igreja de São Francisco
Igreja de São Francisco
Igreja de São Francisco
Igreja de São Francisco
Igreja de São Francisco
Igreja de São Francisco
Igreja de São Francisco
Igreja de São Francisco
Igreja de São Francisco
Igreja de São Francisco

After exploring this area of town, I simply enjoy walking through the streets of Evora in search of the Água de Prata Aqueduct (Aqueduct of Silver Water).

7 thoughts on “Évora: Praça do Giraldo, the Jardim Público, the Igreja de São Francisco & Capela dos Ossos

  1. Ooooh that chapel of bones was something! Reminds one of the catacombs under Paris, where there are endless tunnels full of neatly piled skulls and bones… and thousands of scurrying rats!!!! I still marvel at how small the tourist crowds are in your photos! Is that a reflection of your intention to not photograph them or a sign of poor economic times? I wonder! Loved the gardens, this is a town I would stop to visit!

    1. I know, isn’t that chapel bizarre? I guess the people were already dead, and the reasons for building it are interesting, to remind us of our own mortality, which I guess we should think about now and again. I didn’t see any rats here, luckily!

      Of course I try to avoid having tourists in my pictures when possible, and it was probably easier to do at this time of year, because of the heat, than at other times. It could also be there were fewer because of the economic hard times. This was a cute town to visit, but wait till you see Sintra. That was my favorite place on my whole trip!🙂

    1. Oh Carol, I had beautiful weather the entire trip. I was so lucky, really. Of course, in southern Spain (Seville, Cordoba and Granada) it was a little too hot for my taste, but overall, it was fantastic weather.🙂 I’m glad you’re loving coming along with me on the journey. I’ll hate to see it come to an end, because I’m reliving it as long as I’m posting.

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