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Igreja de São Francisco
Igreja de São Francisco Review
One of the most impressive churches in Salvador, the Church of St. Francis was built in the 18th century on the site of an earlier church that was burned down during the Dutch invasion in the early 1600s. The ceiling was painted in 1774 by José Joaquim da Rocha, who founded Brazil's first art school. The ornate cedar-and-rosewood interior is covered with images of mermaids and other fanciful creatures bathed in gold leaf. Guides say that there's as much as a ton of gold here, but restoration experts maintain there's much less. At the end of Sunday morning mass, the lights are switched off so you can catch the wondrous subtlety of the gold leaf under natural light.
Convento de São Francisco. With an interior gliterring in gold, this is considered one of the country's most impressive churches. Along with intricately carved wood-work, the convento has an impressive series of 37 white-and-blue tiled panels lining the walls of the cloister that tell the tale of the birth and life of St. Francis de Assisi. It is worth catching Sunday morning mass for the atmosphere alone. Largo do Cruzeiro de São Francisco s/n, 40020–280. 071/3322–6430. R$5.
Ordem Terceira de São Francisco. The Ordem Terceira de São Francisco, on the north side of the complex, has an 18th-century Spanish plateresque sandstone facade—the only one in Brazil—that is carved to resemble Spanish silver altars made by beating the metal into wooden molds. 071/3321–6968.
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