Day 9 – Evora

The trip from Sevilla to Evora (Portugal) will probably become a funny story that I like to tell, but for now it was a journey great in theory but painful in reality.  The short version of the story starts with saying goodbye to Chloe, then to the bus station in Sevilla at 11pm, continues in a packed bus through the night to Lisbon at 6am, then to board a train arriving in Evora at 9am. After walking another half hour to the town center I started off a day of touring with a coffee and pastry to address my exhaustion and attitude, respectively.

Evora is a World Heritage Site, a town that began with Roman rulers in 200 BC.  It changed hands from Romans to Moors to Catholics and was a bustling city for hundreds of years.  Now it is a sleepy town with the ruins of a Roman temple and aqueduct, a towering cathedral, a chapel of bones and windy streets in between.  I appreciated the history and the ruins that came with a visit to Evora, but I was not captivated by the town.  A walking tour with a local guide added extra details on the few sites, yet not much more than my trusted Rick Steves’ book provided.  One eerie experience was the Bone Chapel (below St. Francis Church).  In the early 1600’s three monks were deeply concerned about the society’s values and created a space for people to meditate.  The meditation space is a chapel with the walls, ceiling and arches lined with bones and skulls.  The inscription translates to ‘We bones in here wait for yours to join us.’ I wasn’t completely freaked out as I had visited a similar chapel in Rome several years ago.  It is a grounding experience and a not so gentle reminder that our time here is fleeting. I was reminded of a saying that was popular for a while – he who dies with the most toys, still dies.

Several geometry rich sites drew me to Evora, yet it turned out to be a bit disappointing. The Roman temple ruins (1st century AD), the aqueduct, and Evora University (established in 1559) will provide strong historical connections to the unit of three-dimensional shapes with the Corinthian columns, arches and old courtyard.  Unfortunately each site was a relatively short walk through without much to document.  This turned into a short day trip and I returned to Lisbon.

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