Évora’s Cathedral Square

There is plenty to see in Portugal’s largest province, and my husband and I have spent the past week exploring its nooks and crannies. With its evocative suite of Roman and medieval buildings, Évora’s cathedral square proved an ideal place to launch our tour through Antelejano history. These Gothic sculptures stand sentinel at the cathedral’s entrance.

St. Mary’s Cathedral has played a significant role in the city since the 13th century.  Its main portal is made of Brazilian wood. The building’s interior construction is of granite, horizontally striped with painted plaster interstices.

Reading stands are footed with inlaid marble. Paintings from the region’s monasteries and convents—closed by government decree in 1834—line the walls.

The tubular organ, with its pipes placed horizontally to imitate the trumpets of Jericho, gained its claim to fame when played by a visiting Jesuit-sponsored delegation from Japan in one hundred years later.

A climb up the tower offers a fine view of Évora; walks through the cathedral’s cloister and small museum round out a visit to the complex.

Nossa Senorha des O depicts the Madonna in mid-pregnancy, rendered before the 1540 Council of Trent forbade such things. Her long fingers are Gothic, elegant; and her right hand is raised to receive homage, not give a blessing. She faces a mid-16th century statue of the Archangel Gabriel by Olivier of Ghent.
Two angels by Antonio Bellini flank a painted wooden Christ on the cross.
A horse-drawn carriage outside the cathedral awaits customers.
The Roman temple at Évora’s Cathedral Square is the most prominent legacy of the city’s past as Ebora Liberalitas Julia.
The Pousada de Lóios is situated beside the Roman temple. The portal to the Cadaval’s Palace is graceful, and the palace as a whole combines three types of architecture: mudejar, gothic and manueline.
On a sunny February day, the small park fronting the Roman temple offers benches for taking in the sun and reading newspapers; a nearby kiosk with tables serves coffee and snacks.
The promontory before Evora’s Roman temple offers a view of the city below.

Guide Lucia van der Feltz helped me understand something of the history of Évora’s cathedral and its surroundings, before we headed off to visit other parts of the city. She provided excellent background for other historic sites in Alentejo province, as well. The local branch of the Alentejo tourist office is well equipped to book similar tours or provide audio guides for the region, as well as much, much more information about this wonderful city.

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Many thanks to Turismo do Alentejo for hosting our visit to Alentejo, and to TAP Air Portugal for flying us to Lisbon.

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