What from outside looks like an ordinary 14th-century Gothic and Baroque construction, has the most extraordinary church interior in Porto and unquestionably one of the most fabulously opulent in all of Europe.
The extensive 17th- and 18th-century baroque decoration is a profusion of gilt wood carvings in the vault pillars and columns: cherubs, plants, and animals dripping with gold -- note the "Tree of Jesse," dating from 1718. The little that is not covered in pure gold (it's said that there is 400kg of it here), such as the wide-ribbed Gothic arches, is made of marble.
There is a museum housed in the catacombs below, consisting of artifacts from the former monastery. Beneath the flags of the cellar are thousands of human bones, stored to await Judgment Day.
Church services are no longer held here, but it's often the venue for classical music concerts.
If you only have time to visit one church in Porto, make this the one.
Location: Largo de São Francisco
Getting there: Bus 500 from Praça da Liberdade, or walk along the waterfront from Ribeira.
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