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The Gothic Church of St. Francis, reached by steps leading up from the waterfront, was built between 1383 and 1410. In the 17th and 18th centuries, it underwent extensive baroque decoration. The vault pillars and columns are lined with gilded woodwork: cherubs, rose garlands, fruit cornucopia, and frenzied animals, entwined and dripping with gold. Many of the wide-ribbed Gothic arches are made of marble. Soaring overhead, the marble seems to fade and blend mysteriously with the gray granite columns and floors.

The Romanesque rosette dominates the facade, whose square portal is flanked by double twisted columns. Above the columns, a profusely ornamented niche contains a simple white statue of the patron saint. In the rose window, 12 mullions emanate from the central circle in apostolic symbolism, ending in a swaglike stone fringe. The steps spill fanlike into the square, along the base of the curved walls. Nearby, through a separate entrance, is the Museu de São Francisco.