The Church of São Francisco


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.



  1. Jo, these are breathtaking!! 😀😀 The figures are amazing, so tender in their expressions. The restoration is wonderful but wow, what an undertaking and I’d love to visit and leave some money in the collection box. I’m touched that the churches are being rescued and restored, such love, care and time showered on them – we all gain in the process! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! What a find Jo. I love those sculptures in their individual alcoves, it is something I’ve never seen in a church. When we see churches or cathedrals overseas Hubby usually stays outside while I venture in to see the art and how the interior is decorated, it is fascinating. I hope that they get the funding they need to restore that church 🙂

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  3. Taken right back to Catholic childhood of Mass on Sundays … looking at statues of Saints … The Virgin Mary et al .
    Struck some kind of chord long forgotten . Such a beautiful Church … since 1272 really surviving against the odds ! Lovely share Jo .

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh my that sounds like a very big run of bad luck! Being in Canada I always have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of a building being constructed in the 1200’s! You have captured it beautifully Jo.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are more than 20 churches in the town of Tavira, Patrick. Many of them are in good repair and over time the local council has been implementing restoration. It’s an expensive and time consuming business. 🙂

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  5. I hope it gets restored, it’s beautiful. However, I Have to say that those life sized statues freak me out, I’m not a fan of Baroque statuary, let alone when they have real human hair!

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  6. Churches seem to attract all kinds of people, even pagan witches like me, I can never resist one. I really hope they find enough money to restore this one to glory and it needs to be sooner rather than later. I see that someone else finds the figures creepy, can’t remember where I saw some, perhaps where I saw the Fado, but they give me the heebie jeebies.
    Hope your cold clears off for the weekend babe, doing anything exciting? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They just finished the one by the bombeiros, Gilly, and I haven’t seen it open yet. I’ve loved the gardens of this one ever since we found them, years ago. Such a nice surprise to find it open. 🙂 Nothing much this weekend. James will be home sometime on Sunday for his Monday birthday. Hopefully we’ll have some idea how things stand with the job then. How about my favourite pagan witch? 🙂


    1. I’m often astounded at how elaborate the Catholic churches are, Sartenada. I sometimes think that the wealth would be better spent helping the poor but these art works go back and back in time.

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