It was the Judas Trees in full bloom which originally caught my eye, and the reason why I made MrB traipse up the steps after a splendid lunch on a very hot day to Largo de Santa Ana. They just looked so splendid from the other side of the Rio Séqua that I couldn’t resist them. Cercis siliquastrum blooms in late March/early April, and is widely known in the English speaking world as the Judas Tree. The legend is that the tree turned its flowers pink because it was so ashamed that Judas used its branches to kill himself. However it is also possible the name is a corruption of its French name Arbre de Judée, so named because the trees were once abundant in Judea.
What I hadn’t realised though until I was up in Largo de Santa Ana is that there are also white versions of the Judas Tree. I have no idea if the cultivar in Tavira is an ‘Alba’ or ‘White Swan’, but whichever it is it made a lovely contrast to the pink Judas Trees in the square.
What kept us though in the square wasn’t the wonderful blossom but the Church. We had first discovered ‘A Ermida de Santa Ana de Tavira‘ in 2015, but the doors were firmly closed then and despite the occasional visit over the years we had yet to discover the Chapel open to visitors. We were therefore delighted to find the doors widely open earlier this week. It also looked as though the exterior had recently been repainted.
It is unclear exactly how old the Chapel of Santa Ana is, with modern historians quoting either 13th or 14th century. Even in the 16th century visitors to the chapel wrote ‘tam amtigua que nom ha memoria de quem a edificou‘ (so old there is no memory who built it). The chapel would have looked very different when they visited as then the chapel was isolated on its hill, the bell tower was located by the entrance not the rear, and the floor was earth. There was also a cemetery in what is now the square.
Most of the remodelling took place in the early 18th century, and as you may have spotted in one of my photographs this was when the bell tower at rear was added, and I presume the one at the front removed. Further work I think was undertaken in the late 18th/early 19th centuries when it was given to the Governor & Commander of the Algarve following the Great Earthquake of 1756 and was physically attached to his palace/headquarters.
If you would like to discover more about this Chapel and the other 20plus chapels and churches in Tavira then pop into Tourist Information and pick up the excellent small guide ‘Churches and Chapels’. And if you are looking for a beautiful and quiet viewpoint in Tavira, then you can do no better than this.