Igreja de Santa Clara

Igreja de Santa Clara interior
© António Amen / CC BY-SA 3.0
Igreja de Santa Clara - Porto
© António Amen / CC BY-SA 3.0

Santa Clara Church

Porto's Igreja de Santa Clara is a fine example of my favourite kind of historic Catholic church; these are the one that are fairly austere and humble on the outside, but when you pass through the doorway you are almost overwhelmed by the opulent decor.

The exterior of the church is largely 15th century in origin and built in the Gothic style. The exception is the main entrance which was remodeled in the Baroque style. Sitting in a courtyard, just off a leafy square, the church has a very peaceful feel to it. You wouldn't know you were only minutes from Porto's famed Ribeira and the city centre.

Inside the Igreja de Santa Clara is something of a contrast; during the 17th century the interior was transformed into a masterpiece of gilded woodwork. There is barely an inch of this church that is not adorned with angels, saints, cherubs or some decorative feature. Some may think this is all a little over the top, but I would rate it as some of the finest baroque meets rococo craftsmanship to be found in Portugal.

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