Roman Temple of Évora (Templo de Diana)

The Roman Temple of Évora (Portuguese: Templo romano de Évora), also referred to as the Templo de Diana (albeit wrongly, after Diana, the ancient Roman goddess of the moon, the hunt, and chastity) is an ancient temple in the Portuguese city of Évora (civil parish of Sé e São Pedro). The temple is part of the historical centre of the city, which was included in the classification by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It represents one of the most significant landmarks relating to the Roman and Lusitanian civilizations of Évora and in Portuguese territory.

The temple is located in the central square of Évora, in what would have been the highest elevation of the city’s acropolis. It is surrounded by religious buildings associated with the Inquisition in Portugal, including: the Sé Cathedral, the Palace of the Inquisitor, Palace of the Dukes of Cadaval, the Court of the Inquisition and, the Church and Lóios’ Convent, as well as the Public Library and Museum of Évora.

The original temple was probably similar to the Maison Carrée in Nîmes (France). What remains of this structure is the complete base (or podium, made of regular and irregular granite blocks), marked by the ruins of a staircase, an intact colonnade along its northern facade (consisting of six columns) with architrave and frieze, four columns to the east with architrave and frieze and the western facade with three columns, without columns and one deconstructed base, along with architrave and frieze. The structure is oriented towards the south, evidenced by its ample staircase (a double lateral staircase design); further investigations by Hauschild suggest that the complex likely included a reflecting pool and monumental portico, in papers presented by the author at the Museum of Évora (in December 1993). The portico was originally hexastyle, six columns across.

The masonry platform is superimposed onto a granite base, with square corners and remnants of rounded surfaces: the podium is 25 metres long by 15 metres wide and 3.5 metres in height. The fluted shafts of the Corinthian columns, consisting of seven irregular barrel-shaped supports, range from 1.2 metres to 6.2 metres in height. They are stationed on circular white marble pedestals from Estremoz, directly over superior moulds, topped by carved three orders of capitals (also in marble) with decorated abacuses showing flower motifs (marigolds, sunflowers and roses). The rest of the entablature is constructed in granite masonry. It was originally surrounded by a reflecting pool traces of which have been found in late 20th century excavations.

There is an equilibrium and harmony between the granite and marble structure: its appearance, although considered one of the best preserved Roman ruins on the peninsula, was actually restored in the Romantic-style by Giuseppe Cinatti, following the then popular notions and theories of the time

Text: Wikipedia

Photography: Paulo Janela