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…