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Igreja de Santa Clara

Beyond the Façade:  Discovering the Treasures Within Igreja de Santa Clara

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Google Maps Igreja de Santa Clara

Google Maps

Google Maps Igreja de Santa Clara

Google Maps

Igreja de Santa Clara, also recognized as the Church of Santa Clara, stands as a remarkable religious structure nestled in the heart of Porto. However, it maintains a somewhat elusive presence, prompting visitors to actively seek its hidden location. Despite the need for a deliberate search, the quest is undoubtedly rewarding. Dedicated to Saint Clare of Assisi, a prominent figure in the Catholic faith, Igreja de Santa Clara evolved from a religious abode to a cultural heritage site and a prominent tourist attraction in Porto. Its significance is underscored by its classification as a National Monument in 1910 and as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.


The historical journey of this architectural gem commenced in 1416, alongside the construction of the Santa Clara Convent, intended for the use of the nuns belonging to the Order of Poor Clares. The enduring beauty of medieval architecture is evident in its rococo and baroque style and embellishments. While the facade may appear unassuming, the interior of Igleja de Santa Clara underwent a transformation in the 17th and 18th centuries, becoming a captivating masterpiece adorned with intricate woodwork, gilding, and stonework. The church encompasses various architectural styles, including Gothic, Gothic Manueline, Renaissance, and Baroque.

courtyard entrance to Igreja de Santa Clara
entrance to Igreja de Santa Clara courtyard
Igreja de Santa Clara courtyard

courtyard with entrance to Igreja de Santa Clara

entrance to the courtyard 


Externally, Igreja de Santa Clara maintains a humble presence, with its entrance located in a courtyard just off a leafy square, exuding a peaceful ambiance. The opulence of its interior starkly contrasts with its modest facade.

museum Igreja de Santa Clara

museum pieces

museum de Igreja de Santa Clara
gate from museum to church Igreja de Santa Clara

metal gilded gate separating the museum and church

Igreja de Santa Clara
Igreja de Santa Clara
Igreja de Santa Clara

view from the museum to the church through the gate

Igreja de Santa Clara
Igreja de Santa Clara gold leaf


Upon entering the building housing the church, visitors encounter a small museum showcasing original pieces, including saints. The church itself seems to be cloaked in gold, but closer inspection reveals that the intricate wood carvings are coated with generous amounts of gold leaf. Igreja de Santa Clara stands as one of the largest examples of national gilded woodwork, utilizing approximately 200kg of gold to complete its lavish interior. The walls are adorned with statues, figures of saints, cherubs, and angels, while the chapel and choir area boast extravagant decorations.

Igreja de Santa Clara altar
Igleja de Santa Clara altar


The baroque altar piece, along with the chancel and crossing crafted by Miguel Francisco in 1730, adds to the allure of the church's interior.

Igreja de Santa Clara view from platform
Igleja de Santa Clara
Igreja de Santa Clara

Viewing Platform

A unique feature of Igleja de Santa Clara is its viewing platform for the nuns who resided in the adjoining convent. Although the convent is no longer in operation, the enclosed viewing platform on the second floor remains open for exploration.  This platform contained supports rather than chairs for the nuns who got tired of standing during the sermon.  The nuns could view the sermon through a gilded metal gate.


This hidden treasure of a church, Igreja de Santa Clara, is truly worth a visit. For information on pricing and hours of operation, please refer to

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