Campo Maior and Elvas, PortugalOur objectives today are to drive south to see the Chapel of Bones in Campo Maior and the aqueduct and world class fortifications in Elvas.
Castelo de Marvão (Marvão Castle)...located at one of the highest points of the Serra de São Mamede range, Marvão’s colossal castle is one of the strongest examples of military architecture in the region. We are staying in an old building inside the fortress walls for two nights.
Aqueduto da Amoreira (The Amoreira Aqueduct)...This centuries-old aqueduct is the project of the famous Portuguese architect, Francisco de Arruda – founder of the iconic Belém Tower in Lisbon. Taking over 100 years to reach perfection, this 24,500 foot-long structure still has 843 of its original arches, some reaching over 100 feet high and it continues to provide water to the town of Elvas.
The castle and fortress at Campo Maior has seen better days. The town seems very poor and most of the buildings show a need for paint and other maintenance. We park and search the twisted alleys for the "Chapel of Bones".
People are living in tents near the dilapidated old castle. Portugal has very high unemployment right now.
Capela dos Ossos de Campo Maior (Chapel of Bones, Campo Maior).. This18th Century chapel is connected to Campo Maior’s main church and was built after an abrupt gunpowder magazine explosion occurred in the town in 1732. Covered with the bones of the 1,500 victims that were killed in this tragic accident..
Even after nearly 300 years this room is filled with the stench of death. Mrs. Phred asks why some of the skulls are so small and I explain that children have small skulls.
These skulls have been arranged to form a vaulted ceiling arch...I'm reading a book called "Chindi" which is the Navaho name for spirits of the dead.
In Navajo religious belief, a chindi (Navajo: chʼį́įdii) is the ghost left behind after a person dies, believed to leave the body with the decedent's last breath. It is everything that was bad about the person; the "residue that man has been unable to bring into universal harmony". Traditional Navajo believe that contact with a chindi can cause illness ("ghost sickness") and death. Chindi are believed to linger around the decedent's bones or possessions, so possessions are often destroyed after death and contact with bodies is avoided. After death the decedent's name is never spoken, for fear that the chindi will hear and come and make one ill. Traditional Navajo practice is to allow death to occur outdoors, to allow the chindi to disperse. If a person dies in a house or hogan, that building is believed to be inhabited by the chindi and is abandoned.
This Chapel is bad ju-ju....I still have the smell in my nose. There is a bigger one in Evora...I think we will skip it....
This is an artist's conception of the Elvas fortress. It has been under construction since the Moors started the fort in the 8th century. The interior twelve sided fort has walls that are twenty feet thick. Cannos have interlocking fields of fire to chop up any invading force.
The Elvas fort is currently filled with housing, stores and twisted alleys.
Another shot of the aqueduct.
"Ok men. Let's take that hill!"
"We're right behind you Lieutenant."