Evora Cathedral

The Sé (Cathedral) of Évora, Portugal, is a Romanesque-Gothic cathedral with some unique architectural elements and many valuable treasures.

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History of Evora Cathedral

The cathedral of Évora was built in a solid Romanesque style beginning in 1186, about 20 years after the Reconquest and on the site of the city's main mosque. It was completed in 1204. A couple centuries later, it was restored in the Gothic style (c. 1400). According to local legend, the fleet of Vasco de Gama had their flags blessed here in 1497.

What to See at Evora Cathedral

Évora Cathedral's heavy stone facade is flanked with two cone-topped, battlemented square towers, dating from c.1200. The more graceful details, such as the porch and central window, date from the Gothic period. The 12 apostles in the main portal, which recall similar designs at Notre Dame de Paris and Chartres Cathedral in France, are considered masterpieces of Portuguese Gothic sculpture. The crossing tower is an octagonal belfry, with a roof of scale-like tiles.

The interior consists of a nave with two aisles. The impressive 18th-century main altar is made of pink, black, and white marble. Along with the choir, it was created by Friedrich Ludwig, the German architect of the palace-monastery at Mafra.

A major spiritual focus of the interior is a statue of a serene and pregnant Virgin Mary known as The Lady of Mothers, dating from the 15th century. It is unusual to see Mary depicted so obviously pregnant - speculaton is that local priests thought they would have better success in converting local pagans (many of whom worshipped mother goddesses) if they kept the focus on fertility. Young women still pray for fertility, and loved ones pray for help during difficult childbirths, before the statue. Across the aisle, a Renaissance statue of the Archangel Gabriel announces the news of the miraculous conception.

The fine Gothic cloister is entered through a portal with statues of the evangelists. Dark, narrow corridors lead up to a terrace, affording a rare close-up look at the tower and roof as well as providing nice views over the town and surrounding countryside.

The cathedral museum and treasury (Museu de Arte Sacra), in the south tower, houses many wonderful treasures. Among the most notable is a 13th-century carved ivory triptych of the Madonna and Child, which opens to reveal a collection of scenes from Mary's life. Also unmissable is a reliquary studded with 1,426 precious stones, including sapphires, rubies, diamonds, and emeralds - it contains a piece of wood said to have come from the True Cross.

Quick Facts on Evora Cathedral

Site Information
Names:Evora Cathedral · Sé
Country:Portugal
Categories:cathedrals
Styles:Romanesque; Gothic
Dates:1186-1204
Status: active
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:38.571673° N, 7.906626° W
Address:R. da República
Evora, Portugal
7005
Phone:26/670-45-21
Hours:Daily 8:30am-1pm and 2:30-6pm.
Museum closed Mondays.
Lodging:View hotels near Evora Cathedral
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

References

  1. Frommer's Portugal, 19th Edition
  2. Peeling Back the Layers of Evora's History - Rick Steves' Europe
  3. The Sé and around - Rough Guide to Portugal, 12th edition
  4. Reviews of Evora Cathedral - TripAdvisor
  5. Reviews of Evora Cathedral - Virtual Tourist

More Information

© Phillip Capper
© Giovanni Battista Salvietti
© Mick L
© Phillip Capper
© Disorder Chang
© Disorder Chang

Map of Evora Cathedral

Below is a location map and aerial view of Evora Cathedral. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.