Tavira, in the Eastern Algarve, has a reputation for restoring her many churches. In the years I have been visiting I have marvelled at some of the changes wrought. Still it is a thrill to turn a corner and find another, ripe for renovation. If you look closely at the gallery below, you will see what I mean. Exposed bare plaster scars the walls and alcoves.
Previously I had only been into the gardens, the church being always locked. Just occasionally the gardens would be padlocked too, and I’d feel a sense of deprivation. A quiet bench, the overgrown trees dappling patterns onto ruined walls, somehow they provide a warm and soothing space.
Still, it was a revelation to venture inside this church. First appearances can be deceptive. A curtain veiled the entrance to a side chapel. Stepping through a little cautiously, I was utterly unprepared for the figures that greeted me there.
The Church of São Francisco has met with it’s share of disasters. Since construction in 1272 it has suffered 2 earthquakes (in 1722 and 1755), a landslide in 1843 and a fire in 1881. Perhaps it’s time it had a little luck. Should you find yourself in Tavira and the church happens to be open, please deposit a few coins in the collection box. It may help speed the recovery.
This might not be what Paula had in mind for Traces of the Past this week, but it’s an opportunity to share with you Thursday’s Special.