The Church of Sao Francisco is one of the most fascinating religious edifices in Porto. The venue no longer serves as functional place of worship, but it is the most striking church in the city in terms of decorative patrimony, valuable from the point of view of its aesthetic qualities and from a pecuniary perspective alike.

The Church of Sao Francisco was built between the late 14th and the early 15th century (1383 to 1410), and it features prominent Gothic and Baroque elements. The exterior of the venue is not as inviting as one might think at first, but the interior does not fall short of the church’s reputation. This is, by far, the most exquisitely and lushly adorned edifice in Porto (some might even say in Europe). Most of the decorations date back to the 17th and the 18th centuries, consistent with the taste for abundant motifs typical of the Baroque style: floral motifs, fruit, frantic animals, cherubs, all made of gold, beautify and lace the Gothic slender marble columns and arches. A simple assessment is that the amount of gold used for these decorations is about 400 kilos. While sunken in heavy ornamentation, the interior of the church is overtopped by a strikingly simple white statue of Saint Francis (Sao Francisco), the patron saint of the venue.

On top of the artistic patrimony, what is also of note in respect to the Church of Sao Francisco is its catacombs shelter the mortal remains of thousands of people. There’s also a museum, the Museum of Sao Francisco, which is worth visiting.

Church of Sao Francisco (Igreja de Sao Francisco)
Largo de Sao Francisco, Porto, Portugal
00351 222 062100
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