Remember we were going to have an early cuppa on our deck? Waking up to pouring rain put that on hold.
We wandered down to the restaurant for an early breakfast. I asked if there was anything gluten free. I couldn’t believe my eyes what they brought to my table. Yummy gluten free croissant, Pasteis de Nata and a muffin. All beautiful and fresh, the croissant was buttery. Yes I ate them all. If you check on gluten free bakeries in Evora there are quite a few so they would have come from one of them.
After breakfast Muriel and I wandered around the cobblestone streets and checked out more of the Aqua de Prata. Cute little homes are built under the arches. Our hotel the Mar De Ar Aqueduto was where the arches of the Aqua de Prata were quite huge but as we wandered further it became smaller and smaller.
Our day would be spent at the Herdade do Esporao Winery where we would be wined and dined. That requires a whole post dedicated to it so will fast forward to when we arrived back in Evora in the afternoon.
A few of us were dropped of just on the outskirts of Evora, still pouring with rain we made our way to the Cappella Dos Ossos – Chapel of Bones. To be honest I had never heard of this place but in a macabre way I was interested in what would be found there. I have since learnt that it is the most visited place in Evora.
You may ask why was this place even built? Back in the 15th and 16th century the Evora’s cemeteries were overflowing and the remains had to be exhumed to create more space. Three monks had the brilliant idea to create a chapel with the bones and skulls decorating the columns, walls, arches and domes. The bone fragments were used as part of the mortar. Over 5,000 bones stacked neatly on top of each other using every single bit of space.
Across the entrance are the words – Nós ossos que aqui estamos, pelos vossos esperamos” (“we, the bones that are here, await yours”).
There were also two corpses hanging from chains from the ceiling, again one a child or baby, I didn’t take a photo of them.
Our group were sombre as we paused to take photos not one of us wanting a photo of us in it. However there were a group of people who were running around taking happy snaps for those Instagram shots. Like the ones you see in the concentration camps. This was a place of reflection.
Muriel and I probably spent around 10-15 minutes inside the Chapel of Bones. We then made our way back to our hotel.
A poem that was written by Father Antonio da Ascencao, that hangs from one of the pillars that explains the purpose of the chapel.
Aonde vais, caminhante, acelerado?
Pára…não prossigas mais avante;
Negócio, não tens mais importante,
Do que este, à tua vista apresentado.
Recorda quantos desta vida têm passado,
Reflecte em que terás fim semelhante,
Que para meditar causa é bastante
Terem todos mais nisto parado.
Pondera, que influido d’essa sorte,
Entre negociações do mundo tantas,
Tão pouco consideras na morte;
Porém, se os olhos aqui levantas,
Pára…porque em negócio deste porte,
Quanto mais tu parares, mais adiantas.
por Padre António da Ascenção
Where are you going in such a hurry traveler?
Stop … do not proceed;
You have no greater concern,
Than this one: that on which you focus your sight.
Recall how many have passed from this world,
Reflect on your similar end,
There is good reason to reflect
If only all did the same.
Ponder, you so influenced by fate,
Among the many concerns of the world,
So little do you reflect on death;
If by chance you glance at this place,
Stop … for the sake of your journey,
The more you pause, the more you will progress.
by Fr. António da Ascenção (translation by Fr. Carlos A. Martins, CC)
As we walked back in the rain we discovered even the cow statue was ready for the rain.
Once back at the hotel we went upstairs to the bar where we found some of our fellow travelers. We joined them for a drink or two then it was time for bed. It had been a long day.
The next post will be on our visit to the Herdade do Esporao Winery in the Alentejo region of Portugal.