Se Cathedral, Evora Guide
The Sé Cathedral (Catedral da Sé) of Evora is the ancient religious seat of Portugal, and the construction of the highly fortified cathedral in 1280 confirmed the Christian Crusaders conquest over the North African Moors. The architectural styles of the Sé Cathedral reflected the fortune of Evora as a city. The growth of importance of Evora between the 13th and 14th centuries saw the transition of the medieval Gothic cathedral to incorporate Romanesque extensions.
By the 16th century, the religious centre of Portugal had already migrated to the capital, and the Sé Cathedral remained behind as a wonderful unaltered medieval cathedral. For tourists the Sé Cathedral provides a fantastic panoramic rooftop view and a unique statue of the Virgin Mary, and this monument is fine example of a fortified Portuguese cathedral.
Tourist Information for the Sé Cathedral
The Se Cathedral is open every day between 9:00-12:00h and 14:00-16:00h. The entrance fee to the visit just cathedral is €1.50. The entrance fee to visit the roof, the cloisters and the cathedral is €3.50. It is highly recommended to visit the roof as there are great views over Evora. The access to the roof is via the bell tower and the narrow spiral staircase of 135 steps is only suitable for the fit.
The two miss-matched towers of the cathedral
The roof and the views are both regarded as the highlight of a visit to the cathedral. The cloisters are less impressive than those of the Sé Cathedral in Lisbon. Typical visits to the Sé Cathedral range from just a passing glance (15 minutes) through to exploring the cloisters and the cathedral and climbing the towers (1.5 hours).
Interesting facts about the Sé Cathedral Evora
The cathedral is unique of its era, as most Romanesque-styled buildings have a clear line of symmetry running the length of the building. The Sé is markedly different by having two asymmetric towers: one tower finishes with a blue tiled coned spire, while the other is a fortified clock and bell tower.
Surrounding the main portal (entrance) are 14th century statues of the apostles and these statues are free standing, which again is unique for Portuguese churches. The cathedral is believed to have been constructed on the site of an important Mosque and was a symbolic act by the 12th century crusaders.
Inside the cathedral it transitions from the solid but bland Romanesque exterior to the more decorative gothic interior. The layout of the cathedral follows the classical Latin cross plan, and the interior contains many of the same design features as found in the Sé Cathedral of Lisbon. These similarities extend to the magnificent rose window, which baths the interior in pale coloured sunlight.
The giant rose window of the cathedral
The cathedral is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and a rare representation of her heavily pregnant is located at the altar. Images and statues of Mary’s pregnancy were commonly found in Europe during the medieval age, but were eradicated on the orders of the Pope during the late 15th century. The gothic statue of Mary pregnant is the only example found within Portugal.
The cloisters of Evora cathedral
The Sé Cathedral name is derived from the two letters S and E, which in Latin stands for Sedes Episcopalis (the seat of the bishop); therefore, the Sé de Evora is the Bishop’s seat in Evora. The most historically important event occurred in the Sé was the blessing of Vasco da Gama’s fleets flags before his famous expedition to India. In 1988, the cathedral was classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.