Tavira Churches

Convento de Nossa Senhora da Graça

The Convento de Nossa Senhora da Graça  is one of the most important buildings of the historic centre of the city, due to its strategic position of the surrounding area.
In 1497, in the process of expulsion of the Jews, King Manuel I ordered the extinction of synagogues and their conversion into churches or buildings for other purposes. This resulted in the eviction of the old Jewish quarter of Tavira, a space later used by the Order of St. Augustine to found its convent in 1542, which results from the transfer of another convent that had ephemeral life in the African square of Azamor. The works, however, did not begin before 1569, since the first years of the institution’s life were marked by the figure of Friar Valentim da Luz, prior of the convent and intellectual who assumed some Protestant positions, having ended up being accused by the Inquisition and killed in a self of faith in Lisbon. From this first construction there is little left except for the cloister, whose first floor retains the original structure, of classical design something erudite, translated into colonnads of Tuscan order. The church also owes its structure to the primitive temple of the second half of the sixteenth century, although it has been altered over the centuries. The construction works of the convent were slow, extending until the seventeenth century. It is still considered one of the pioneering works of the “ground style” in the Algarve. In the eighteenth century the building is the target of a new and ambitious campaign of works begun in 1749 under the direction of the Algarvian architect Diogo Tavares and Ataíde, who restored the cloister and remodeled several convent wings. This campaign came to update the convent within the Baroque form, highlighting the large body of the main façade, destined to the friars’ dormitory, which followed an architectural project from Lisbon. From 1834, with the extinction of religious orders, the building became attached to the Ministry of War that installed successive military units here. More recently it was acquired by the municipality and ceded to the “Pousadas de Portugal”, which rehabilitated it for hotel functions in 2006. This work enabled archaeological intervention in space, a process that allowed the opening of a museum nucleus composed of traces of an Islamic neighborhood of the late twelfth century and beginning of the thirteenth century.

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