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Santa Maria do Castelo

The history

From an ancient Great Mosque to a neoclassical Christian Church

Once a former major mosque, it was founded in the 13th century after the Christian reconquest. It is not known for sure which structures remain from that distant period, pointing out the clock tower as containing parts of the old minaret and the shop dome as originating from that time.

With the earthquake of 1755, it underwent major alterations under the guidance of the Bishop of the Algarve, D. Francisco Gomes do Avelar, who sent for an architect from Italy, Francisco Fabri, to whom we owe the articulation between the modern neoclassical project and the vestiges of the old medieval church. The result was a remarkable eclectic solution.

The chancel, the Gothic side chapels, the Manueline chapel, as well as the late-Gothic portal, were reused, integrating the new architectural and artistic logic that Fabri impregnated Santa Maria do Castelo.

From the 16th century, the Capela do Senhor dos Passos (Chapel of Our Lord of the Steps) with its multi-ribbed vaulted ceiling stands out.

Inside the church, there are various carved altarpieces from the Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical periods, as well as various examples of tiles, paintings and imagery.

In the chancel, on the side of the epistle, there is a lapidary inscription corresponding to the tomb of the "seven knights".