Igreja de São Francisco & Capela dos Ossos
Church in Évora
The church’s façade is notable for its porch with arches that showcase a fusion of Gothic and Moorish styles, a common feature found in many monuments in the region. Above the Manueline doorway, one can see the emblems of the kings who commissioned its construction, D. João II and D. Manuel I, represented by the pelican and armillary sphere, respectively.
The Church’s interior features a single nave with a ribbed vaulted ceiling, the largest span of any Portuguese Gothic architecture. Twelve Baroque carved wood chapels line the sides, while the main chapel, dating back to the early 16th century, maintains important Renaissance elements such as the pulpits. The chapel of the third order, situated on one of the arms of the transept, boasts a harmonious decoration of stone, carved woodwork, and azulejo tiles.
Capela dos Ossos
Capela dos Ossos, or the Chapel of Bones, is a unique chapel located in Évora, Portugal. The chapel was constructed in the 16th century by Franciscan monks and is famous for its macabre decorations – its walls and columns are lined with thousands of human bones and skulls.
The chapel was built as a response to the growing number of cemeteries in Évora and to the monks’ desire to remind people of the transience of human life. The bones used in the construction of the chapel were taken from local cemeteries, including the bodies of plague victims, and were carefully arranged to create intricate patterns and designs.
Visitors to the chapel can see the bones of an estimated 5,000 individuals on display. Inscriptions on the walls remind visitors of the fragility and fleeting nature of human life, such as the famous phrase “We bones that are here, for yours we wait.”
While the Capela dos Ossos is undoubtedly a macabre attraction, it is also a remarkable work of art and a testament to the religious and cultural history of Portugal. The chapel remains a popular tourist destination to this day, attracting visitors from around the world who are fascinated by its eerie beauty and haunting message.
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Visiting Igreja de São Francisco & Capela dos Ossos
9am-6.30pm Jun-Sep, to 5pm Oct-May