After strolling through the Jardim do Infante Dom Henrique, in Porto, Portugal, we headed towards the Igreja de São Francisco crossing the Rua de Ferreira Borges. As we climbed the stairs we could see the baroque facade of the Church with a rose window on the top and over the entrance a statue of Saint Francis. It was built between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Originally, the church was built in the year 1410 in granite. It combines Romanesque and Gothic elements, its interior has three naves in five sections, with the central being higher than the lateral ones. The roof and the facade are reinforced by staggered abutments.
The “Igreja de São Francisco” was part of the Convent of San Francisco and the Order of Franciscan Friars that arrived in Porto in 1233. The first church was built in 1245 and was replaced with the current structure at the beginning of the 15th century. Where once stood the old Convent of San Francisco, destroyed during the Portuguese Civil War, today is the “Palacio de la Bolsa” (Stock Exchange).
In front of the entrance of the Church there is a building dedicated to the Secretariat and office of the Order. Under this structure are the catacombs of the church. Benefactors of the Order of Porto are buried there, underneath the church. This practice was discontinued in 1866.
The temple has not been subject to major modifications since its construction in 1410. However, it suffered damage as a result of the Napoleonic occupation in 1809, during which time the temple was used as a stable. In those times, both the altarpieces of the church and other artistic elements suffered great damage. The Civil War (1828 – 1834) also had its impact on the structure.
Since 1996, the Igreja de São Francisco is part of the monumental complex of Porto that was declared a World Heritage Site.