The Roman Temple in Evora is one of the greatest and best preserved roman temples in the Iberian Peninsula. That is why it was considered World Heritage by UNESCO in 1986. This is the ex-libris of the city, a sort of visiting card. And, of course, the most important representative of the Roman remains in Evora.
Looking at this Roman Temple, also wrongly known as Diana Temple, is like returning to the past. It is one of the most important landmarks of Evora, and probably the most famous, also being um of the most visible symbols of the roman occupation in the city.
Built in Corinthian style in early 1st century AD, it is located in the historical centre, more precisely in Largo Conde de Vila Flor, near Evora Cathedral, Evora Library, Fórum Eugénio de Almeida, Evora Museum and the beautiful inn Pousada Convento de Evora.
While you visit Evora, this will be a very interesting circuit to do in a single day. We also suggest a stroll in Diana Garden (Jardim de Diana) to relax, have a cold drink and rejoice with the magnificent view over the city and the Alentejo plateau that surrounds it.
Still today, this monument is known as Diana Temple by many Portuguese and even people from Evora. The confusion can be explained due to a legend created in the 17th century which associated the construction of “Diana Temple” of Evora in honour of the roman goddess of the hunt. History would reveal that, in reality, the Evora Roman Temple was erected as part of the roman forum to pay tribute to Emperor Augustus, worshiped as a god.
The temple was modified in the following centuries (2nd and 3rd) and partly destroyed in the 5th century when the Barbarian peoples invaded the region. Over the centuries, the temple suffered several destructions and changes in terms of practical use. In the 14th century, for example, it was used as the safe house, a sort of vault of the castle of the city of Evora. Later, it was modified to serve as a slaughterhouse.
In the second half of the 19th century there was a major restoration, with the objective of giving the temple the original lines back, its dignity as a monument. Finally, in the 20th century, with new excavations, the remains of a portico (which would have been surrounded by water) were found.
In spite of all the modifications and destructions, the Roman Temple of Evora maintains it original blueprint today. This majestic monument has a rectangular shape. The base (podium), made of large granite blocks and with around 11.5ft (3,5m) high, is almost intact.
Over the base of the Roman Temple there are still 14 original Corinthian columns. Many of these still have their capitals, made of white marble from Estremoz. The floor, once covered with mosaic, is completely gone.
Nowadays, we can see the podium, almost complete; the staircase, in ruins; in the north top, 6 intact columns holding the original architrave; and 7 more columns on the sides (4 to the east and 3 complete ones to the west).
We can also see, on weekends, recently-weds posing to timeless photos which will remind them not just of their marriage but also of the magnificence of this grand temple. Besides these, there are the endless tourists, the young people who have just graduated from the Evora University, the lovers,… Every one wants a souvenir of the monument which has survived through centuries.