Postcards from Portugal: Évora, Fátima & Tomar

Today’s post is the second of three in my Postcards from Portugal series. The first post on Lisbon, Cascais & Sintra is here. As usual, when you see an image gallery, click on an image to get a better view and use the arrows to move through the gallery.


On Day 4, I headed to Évora, 140 km east from Lisbon. Évora is one of Portugal’s most beautifully preserved medieval towns and the whole city of Évora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Upon arrival, I headed to Évora’s main square, the Praça do Giraldo, and walked through the cobbled streets of this former royal town.

My first stop was the Roman Temple of Évora, built in the first half of 1st century AD and dedicated to Emperor Augustus, first emperor of Rome. This Roman Temple is Évora’s most iconic monument and is considered one of the best preserved Roman ruins on the Iberian peninsula.

My second stop was the Cathedral of Évora. Its construction, in the Roman-Gothic style, was started around 1280 and finished by 1350. Impressive art and architecture found throughout the Cathedral.

My third stop was the Church of St. Francis that is famous for its Ossuary chapel or Chapel of Bones. Built in the first half of the 17th century by Franciscan monks, the Chapel’s walls are decorated with thousands of human bones and skulls, which came from ordinary people who were buried in Évora’s medieval cemeteries. Above the chapel entrance: “Nos ossos que aqui estamos pelos vossos esperamos” or “We bones that are here await yours.”

Leaving the Chapel of Bones, I took a stroll wandering Évora’s small streets, admiring the art and architecture, and browsing souvenir shops. Évora is located in Portugal’s Alentejo region which is known for its cork cultivation. It’s a good place to buy all kinds of things made from cork.


On Day 5, I left Lisbon behind and traveled north through the scenic Portuguese countryside to Fátima, one of the most important Catholic shrines in the world, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Its Sanctuary welcomes millions of pilgrims from all over the world. Fátima’s fame is due to the Marian Apparitions that appeared to three shepherd children in 1917.

Here, I visited the Sanctuary of Fátima. It’s a huge U-shaped shrine complex built in neoclassical style, flanked by colonnades linking it with the extensive convent. I happened to be at the shrine complex on Palm Sunday morning. Hundreds if not thousands of people arrived to attend mass.

People carried flowers or local tree branches and candles of different lengths (the long, 5 ft candles are for adults, shorter candles are for children). Some people ‘walked’ on their knees. Some came with folding chairs for a long stay. It was clearly a spiritual experience for the pilgrims to be there. The nearby market sells all sorts of trinkets, souvenirs and candles in the shapes of various body parts.


From Fátima I continued my journey to Tomar, one of Portugal’s historic jewels. Upon arrival, I had lunch in a small eatery near Tomar’s main square before visiting the hilltop Convent of Christ, former seat of Knights Templar and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Construction of the Convent of Christ in Tomar began in 1160 in Manueline architectural style. Click here for a history summary of this large monumental complex. Once again, impressive art and architecture found throughout the Convent.

I stayed overnight in Tomar and left for Coimbra the next morning. More to follow.

Weekend Coffee Share

This post is my contribution to Dan’s #ThursdayDoors and Terri’s #SundayStills Churches, Temples, and Spiritual Centers.

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