Convento de São Francisco - Santarém
The convent of São Francisco was founded by the king D. Sancho II, in 1242. As happened with the similar Convento de Santa Clara, the convent was built in accordance with the architectural guidelines of the mendicant Gothic style: austerity in terms of decoration, a spacious three-naved interior, a prominent transept and a chancel with five adjoining chapels (arranged in the form of a cross).
In the 14th century, the king D. Fernando considerably enriched the convent, adding a lower choir to the church´s interior and ordering a large cloister to be built. One of the reasons for such an initiative was the king´s desire to be buried here. His tomb is now to be found in the Carmo Archaeological Museum in Lisbon.
The façade had a porch in the 15th century, where in 1477 D. João II took his oath as the future king of Portugal, an episode that underlines the importance of this monument in the city´s history.
Mention should also be made of some additions made over the centuries: some in the Manueline style (in the cloister), and others in the Renaissance style (Capela das Almas) and Mannerist style (the burial chapel of the Menezes family). In 1834, it was transformed into the barracks of the Santarém Cavalry Regiment. Since 1999, conservation and restoration works have attempted to recover the building´s monumental appearance, which presently makes it impossible to visit.