Roman Temple of Evora - History and Facts | History Hit

Roman Temple of Evora

Evora, Alentejo, Portugal

The Roman Temple of Evora was an impressive Roman monument and is now a pretty ruin.

Peta Stamper

11 May 2021

About Roman Temple of Evora

The Roman Temple of Evora in Portugal is an impressive Roman monument which dates back to the 2nd – maybe even the 1st – century AD. Often known as the Temple of Diana (Templo de Diana), the Roman Temple of Evora has been attributed to this Roman deity as well as to the Emperor Augustus and the god Jupiter.

Today, the Roman Temple of Evora is one of the most important sites in this UNESCO-listed city centre and is comprised of ornate Corinthian columns rising out of a large stone base.

Roman Temple of Evora history

Both during and after his rule, the Roman emperor Augustus was venerated as a god. The Roman Temple of Evora was built in devotion to Augustus some time around the 1st century AD in the forum of Evora, then known as Liberalitas Iulia.

During the 2nd and 3rd centuries the urban city was centred at the forum – the religious and administrative heart of Roman society with the temple the focus of both. However, when invading Germanic peoples retook the land in the 5th century they destroyed the temple.

During the 14th century, the temple functioned as a strong-house for the town’s fortifications, sat at the highest elevation of the city’s acropolis. The columns were filled in with stones and topped with a crenelated top. In 1467, King Alfonso V of Portugal allowed the temple to be rebuilt as the Castle of Evora.

Until the 1836, the temple-turned-castle was used as a butcher’s shop, ultimately preserving it from destruction. Sometime during the 17th century a Portuguese priest wrongly associated the temple with the deity Dianna, Roman goddess of the hunt. 

In 1840, the then director of the Public Library of Evora gained permission to destroy the adjoining buildings that were associated with the Portuguese Inquisition, and the first great archaeological excavation began. The findings included tanks of an early aqueduct, although these were partially destroyed in the 1860s when the toll of history finally collapsed the temple ceiling.

The program of restoration continued, guided by the Romantic thinking of the later 19th century.

Roman Temple of Evora today

Today, the Roman Temple of Evora remains one of the most visible symbols of the far-reaching Roman Empire in the Iberian Peninsula. At the heart of Evora’s historical centre, the Corinthian columns continue to dominate the city’s landscape.

What remains are one end of the columned structure mounted high on a rectangular stone base. The opposite end crumbles into the cobbled streets and is guarded by a low-lying railing. Lit up from behind by an early evening sunset, the Roman Temple of Evora does not disappoint as a dramatic reminder of Evora’s ancient past and a great spot to end your day.

Getting to the Roman Temple of Evora

For those driving, the Roman Temple of Evora is just off the N18 circling the city, where there is a large car park called Parkplatz Evora. Evora is a relatively small city so it is easy to walk from the bus and train stations, a 10 and 20 minute walk respectively from the temple.

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