One of the most amazing interiors I have ever seen in a church is that of São Francisco’s in Porto. The carvings are astounding and it’s a place where you could just sit and observe and be awed. Over 100kg of gold leaf was used inside here, and at one point they closed the church because it was considered too extravagant due to the humble nature of the people in the surrounding area. It eventually reopened after a few years. If you are in Porto this is definitely a place to come visit. It’s a World Heritage site and justly so.
Right next to the church are the catacombs where wealthy Porto families, as well as monks of the church, are buried. There are a few statues in the catacombs, but mostly it’s just the vaults with the names and dates on them. They are currently all being restored, and it’s quite a jarring difference going from the newer to the older section. It’s amazing what they are doing to protect and preserve these monuments.
Also, as part of the catacombs, there is an ossuary full of thousands of bones. There is a glass portion in the floor that allows you to see into the room.
Monuments: A few statues (large and small) are down here, but mostly it’s the vaults and the ossuary that people want to see.
Grounds: Of course there are stairs down to the catacombs and once there, there are different levels as well. The floor can be uneven in a few places but shouldn’t be a problem for most people.
Visitors: Yes, many. This is a well-established spot on the tourist trail in Porto.
Notes: It’s quite dark down here, so low light levels are an issue. However, that didn’t seem to stop any of the number of tourists here from taking photos.
Site: Church of São Francisco and its catacombs
Location: Praça Infante Dom Henrique
Hours: 09:00-20:00 (July-Sept), to 19:00 (Mar-June, October), to 17:30 (Nov-Feb)