The Chapel of Bones, Evora

17 Reviews

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Things to do


Date of travel

September, 2019

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After the weary, uphill and ancient cobbled streets of Evora, where no matter how thick your soles on your shoes are, it is hard on those feet (just see it as a free Shiatsu massage though and you will feel better) we came onto the Franciscan Chapel of Bones. Here, 5000 bones and skulls, some whole, line the walls.

In the 16th cantury the bones were disinterred from surrounding graveyards to build a chapel and rather re-burying them, the monks decided to put them on display and lined the walls with them. It became a place to meditate on the transience of material things in the undeniable presence of death as the monks found society’s values where changing for the worse as it was becoming too prosperous a town.

Inside there is a poem about the need to reflect on one’s existence. And the inscription over the door roughly translates as “We bones, are here, waiting for yours.”

There was a wait to enter the chapel as it is controlled because it was very popular and crowded. It was slightly oppresive because of the crowds, the heat of the day and a slight musty smell but it still achieved what it was originally built for becuase it was a contemplative space. The chapel itself is on the level across a square but getting there is not easy for those with limited mobility. Evora itself is very beautiful, with lots of cafes and things of interest and warrants a day out.


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