Join the many other visitors to this beautiful church, which contains many striking features, the most memorable of which has to be the macabre Bone Chapel.
The Igreja de São Francisco, or the Church of St. Francis, is among Évora’s most visited sites. Come here to admire a fine example of late 15th to early 16th-century architecture. See the many ornate elements of the interior. Experience the eerie atmosphere inside the Bone Chapel, which is exactly what it sounds like.
Although a church has stood on this spot since 1226, the Igreja de São Francisco is a little bit newer. Work commenced on it in the late 15th century. Look for the many features of the exterior that are typical of the period, such as the grand doorway.
Step inside and admire the high vaulted ceilings and the rich design of the altar. Pay careful attention and try to spot the many wonderful details that make the interior so interesting to look at. These include traditional hand-painted Portuguese tiles, intricate wooden carvings and lots of gilt detailing.
Brace yourself for an unsettling experience as you step into the Bone Chapel. Despite its creepiness, this space is very beautiful. Look around you and see human bones, including skulls, covering almost every surface. The bones are arranged in incredibly intricate shapes and patterns. Although the chapel’s existence may seem mysterious, it was apparently created as a practical solution to a problem: the lack of space for corpses in the town’s cemeteries. Similar bone chapels exist in various places throughout Europe.
After exploring the church and its chapel, take the time to explore some of the other historic attractions located nearby. Walk for about 5 minutes to the north and hit the town’s main square, Praça do Giraldo. This lovely spot is surrounded by elegant 16th-century buildings. A few minutes to the east, find the ancient Roman Temple of Évora and the impressive Évora Cathedral. Set aside an hour or two to wander the galleries of nearby Évora Museum too.
The Igreja de São Francisco is free to enter and is centrally located. Stay overnight in lovely Évora, or come from Lisbon for the day. The journey is the perfect length for a daytrip, taking less than 2 hours.