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Church of São Francisco

See the stunning gold-coated interior, ancient religious artifacts and fascinating catacombs of one of Portugal’s most beautiful churches. 

Head to the Church of São Francisco to see gold-coated angels, floral motifs and exquisitely detailed wood carvings. Walk through the church museum and discover precious centuries-old artifacts and catacombs holding the bones of religious servants.

A religious structure has stood on the site in the city center since 1244, when the Franciscans built a small church dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi, but the current building was completed in the early 1400’s. Besides its fine Gothic architecture, the Church of São Francisco is known for its abundance of precious metal; the interior of the church holds approximately 900 pounds (400 kilograms) of bright gold leaf.

Walk around the church to see the sharp Gothic features and impressive rose window above the main entrance. Stop at the south portal to admire the rare Mudejar wood paneling. This dates back to the days of Islamic influence in Portugal.

When you step inside the church, the bright gold on the ceiling, columns and walls will take your breath away. Look for statues of cherubs, monks, animals and more, all coated in shining gold leaf. 

Explore the interior and discover other prominent features, such as the white stone statue of St. Francis. Once you’ve admired the more obvious elements of the interior, visit the small Chapel da Arvore de Jesse where you will find a series of intricate wood carvings of religious scenes. 

Head to the lower level and visit the small museum which holds items from the first church that stood on the site. View ancient clothes and jewelry that could have belonged to the original parish members. Wind your way through the catacombs that contain human bones said to be waiting for Judgment Day.

The Church of São Francisco is located in the old town in Porto and is within walking distance or a short bus journey from the city center. The church is open daily. The catacombs have a separate fee.


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