Creepy crypt at Igreja de São Francisco

close up photo of skull

Igreja de São Francisco – or the church of Saint Francis in English – is  a fascinating place. In the first quarter of the 13th century, Franciscans started to build a church and cloister. Over the next two hundred years, the church expanded into its current Gothic form.

There was a cloister attached but it burned down about 150 years ago during a violent social uprising. It was never replaced and the stock exchange sits on the site.

Like many Portuguese churches, it then got a generous coating of gold decoration in the 18th century in the Baroque style. This includes a chapel depicting Franciscans being decapitated by Saracens as a punishment for trying to spread their faith in the Muslim world. A rather morbid sculpture!

But it’s what lurks underneath the church that’s a must see. A truly eerie crypt with lots of skulls and piles of human bones. Here is a glimpse below…

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