Wednesday, July 17: After visiting the Universidade de Évora, I climb to the top of the hill to visit the Cathedral of Évora. When I first enter the Cathedral, I pay a mandatory entrance fee to visit the museum and cathedral and am sent up the stairs to the choir stalls, the museum and the roof. From the choir stalls above, I’m able to get this picture of the central nave. The baroque main chapel is in the background. The large nave has a pointed barrel vault. The interior space is accentuated by the use of white mortar on the bare high walls, pillars and vaults.
It was Gerald the Fearless (Geraldo Sem Pavor) who definitively reconquered Evora from the Arabs in 1166. Soon afterwards, the new Christian rulers of the city began to build a cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary. This first building, built between 1184 and 1204, was very modest and was enlarged circa 1280-1340, this time in early Gothic style. The cathedral received several valuable additions through time, such as the 14th century Gothic cloisters, the 16th century Manueline chapel of the Esporão and a new main chapel in baroque style (first half of the 18th century). It is the largest of the medieval cathedrals in Portugal and one of the best examples of Gothic architecture (Wikipedia: Cathedral of Évora).
My favorite thing about visiting this Cathedral is getting to clamber about on the roof. I think it’s fun to take pictures up here, with its great views of Évora below and its fascinating architectural features.
I even find a flat surface on the roof where I can set my camera with the 12-second timer to take a picture of myself. Everyone wants pictures of themselves in the places they visit and I’m no exception, but I can’t take many because I’m by myself. So it’s always great when I can find a ledge somewhere to place my camera. Especially when the ledge is at a decent height so the picture isn’t too unflattering. 🙂
Walking back down the steep circular stairs, I find myself in the Gothic-style cloisters, built between 1317 and 1340. The use of granite in the cloisters’ Late-Gothic tracery gives it a heavy-looking overall impression. I’ve seen a lot of beautiful cloisters on this trip, but this set is not one of my favorites because of its bulkiness. I prefer the more delicate cloisters I’ve found, especially at the Alcazar in Seville and the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes in Toledo.
Each corner of the cloister gallery has a marble Gothic statue of one of the Four Evangelists. The Capela do Fundador, the funerary chapel of bishop D. Pedro, builder of the cloisters, features his tomb with recumbent figure, a statue of the Archangel Gabriel and a polychromed statue of Mary.
Finally, I’m deposited into the inside of the Cathedral where I can walk around the nave and the main chapel, which was totally rebuilt between 1718 and 1746, a work sponsored by King John V. The style favoured by the King and his architect was Roman baroque, with polychrome marble decoration (green marble from Italy, white marble from Montes Claros, red and black marble from Sintra) and painted altars. Although its style does not really fit into the medieval interior of the cathedral, the main chapel is nevertheless an elegant baroque masterpiece.
In the middle of the central nave there is a large 15th century Baroque altar with a polychrome Gothic statue of a pregnant Virgin Mary.
The Cathedral of Évora was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.
Here are some late afternoon pictures of the exterior of the cathedral, with its pretty rose granite facade.