Igreja e Convento São Francisco

Defying the teachings of the saint to which it is dedicated, the baroque Igreja e Convento São Francisco is crammed with displays of wealth. An 80kg silver chandelier dangles over ornate wood carvings smothered in gold leaf, and the convent courtyard is panelled with hand-painted azulejos (Portuguese tiles). The complex was finished in 1723.

Forced to build their masters’ church and yet prohibited from practising their own religion, African slave artisans responded through their work: distorting the faces of the cherubs, endowing some angels with huge sex organs, or making others appear pregnant. Most of these creative touches were chastely covered by 20th-century sacristans.

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