Departing by coach from Cascais at 9am and returning at 9pm, IWP members and guests recently enjoyed a fun and fact-filled tour of Évora and its megalith sites, bathed in autumn sunshine. The knowledge of our guide, Olga, who had even studied the ancient megaliths at the city’s university, was unsurpassable.

Skulls and bones lining Casa dos Ossos

On arrival at Évora’s outer wall, following a comfort and coffee stop, the group wandered over to the Igreja do São Francisco, the restoration of which had just been completed, with both the exterior and interior emulating the original 15th century stone construction and design detail. Inside the church, the Casa dos Ossos was the main attraction for those who hadn’t already viewed the layers of human bones carefully arranged within.

A walking tour took the group through the narrow streets of the city, with Olga pointing out the city’s inner walls, originally forming one side of the moat, which had subsequently been incorporated into the construction of city buildings. Inside the city hall we viewed ruined Roman foundations before visiting another site where a significant section of the city wall had been excavated and was carefully protected from the elements, while clearly on display to visitors. The final pre-lunch stop was at the Temple of Diana where, Olga explained, it remained uncertain whether it had ever actually been dedicated to the Roman goddess.

IWP members and guests at the Temple of Diana

 

Next, a short walk straddling a drainage ditch led us to a single menhir, about which our guide also informed us. Nobody knows the exact purpose of this kind of monument, which also occurs elsewhere in Europe, but ideas range from time measurement (position and length of shade at any given time), or celestial observatory, to a phallic symbol as part of ancient religion. It could possibly be all of them. Theories abound!

 

 

The final megalith, access to which surely tested the coach-driver’s nerves, with overhanging, low branches in addition to a narrow, uneven and pot-holed track, was well worth the nail-biting approach. Here, close to the University of Évora Veterinary School at Valeverde, stands a huge anta (burial chamber), comprising three massive stones. How these were hauled to the site in prehistoric times and erected (two upright in tepee style and the other across them, serving as a roof), defies imagination! Once again, Olga provided a fascinating insight into the history of the site.

Finally, the coach returned to Évora to drop off our guide before heading back to Cascais with its party of IWP members and friends, replete with the history of Évora and its megaliths. It was a packed twelve-hour trip which we all thoroughly enjoyed, being most appreciative of Marsha’s organisation.

Information about the Évora megaliths can be found at:

http://www.ancient-wisdom.com/portocromleqdosalmendres.htm

Tags: Caroline Will | Évora | Maggie Martinho | Megalith | New Stone Age tribes

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