The ruins of the Roman temple are the most emblematic place to begin the stroll along the ancient streets of Evora – a camertone to give the right modality to a traveller to prepare his heart to meet the mysterious beauty of the ancient city. However apart of the Roman ruins there is nothing pompous in kissed by sun place, startling in a variety of styles, mixture of epoques, and an incredible lightness of atmosphere.
While strolling from the Roman temple to the central square along the tiny streets one can discover the exposition of the variety of objects made of… cork! A cork to wear, a cork to carry around: bags, shoes, aprons, – all are made of wooden bark, changing our perception of what can be done from a tree. At heart of the Alentejo region – the world producer of cork for wine bottles – Evorians surprise with their fantasy in exploring the potential of a plant. The stylish design for those who wish to stand out in a crowd – a soft and eco friendly material, cork definitely wins the sympathies of those who have an ambition to be nature and animal friendly according to the contemporary ideals.
The stroll along the charming streets with toursitic shops trading cork leads to the major city temple, located of the highest hill and crowing the old town of Evora.
The splendor of the Cathedral Sé de Évora is breathtaking. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage, it attracts as magnet the flows of pilgrims – the lovers spiritual art and architecture. The gilded interiors strike with their majestic appearances, making one daydream, watching the long beams of sun coming from above. The opulent decorations like an orchestra symphony are celebrating the glory of world’s famous explorer Vasco da Gama, who is believed to get the blessing for the flags for his fleet in the Cathedral.
While leaving the Cathedral, and stepping into Evora’s sunshine, one can notice a stream of young people: the true and devoted pilgrimage to one of the city major attractions – Capela dos Ossos – the mysterious Chapel of Bones.
At most popular among young audience Capela dos Ossos does not make a heavy impression on a visitor thanks to the sunshine from the windows, and quite a dense crowd armed with smartphones and cameras, leaving hardly any space for contemplation on ‘sic transit gloria mundi’ – the creators of the chapel had in mind. The multitudes of bones, covering the walls and pillars, and even two mummies exposed in the space are reminiscent of the decoration of a theatre play, a historic drama, or even a Hollywood move setting. Reportedly many fans of thrillers have the Chapel in mind as an ideal location to celebrate Halloween – a theatrical way of relating to dead with a good dose of humor.
Next to the Chapel’s extravagant decorum the expression of faces of the visitors is not to be missed. Is the message of the Franciscan monks well delivered four centuries after? If judging by the numbers of photographs taken, one can be definite about the success of the project, triumphant in its longevity and capacity to strike imagination. Today with the significant students population of the reputable University of Evora, the Chapel is never to be short of visitors.
“Memento mori” images are swiftly disappearing in day light next to the marble fountain at Giraldo Square, where inevitably the traveller finds himself, perambulating in the vicinity of the old town. A special place for the inhabitants of Evora honoring Fearless Geraldo Geraldes (or Giraldo Sem Pavor), the hero-liberator of the city from the of Moorish rule in 1167. The monumental fountain is a centre of the square and even more so of folk tales, narrating that the King Philip III of Spain thought that it was worthy of being coronated for its outstanding beauty. But it is not only old art, that inspires – next to the glorious fountain there is a modern sculpture to admire, a piece of pink marble tailored in a rough way following the aesthetics concepts of today, and contrasting with the ancient way of working with the stone polishing its surface.
After the tour in the most glorious part of Evora one can not compromise a lunch in a mediocre place – Dom Joaquim restaurant offers an experience in style beyond delicious food. Some of the dishes on the menu are as much historical as Evora’s ancient walls and temples: the spicy shark soup traces its history in tales of the city, when clever vendors of the fish preferred it to avoid the strict test on freshness by Evora’s housewives, inspecting the gills color. Since those days, the shark remains a star of Evorian cuisine, served with spicy soup and crunchy bread, it pleases both the taste and curiosity of traveller, making the discovery of Evora special in all senses.