“Santa Clara Convent”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/otherholidays/madeira/funchal/churches/convent/index.html was built in the late C15th for the younger daughters of wealthy families. There is a small charge to visit the convent, but the church is free.
The convent church is a simple white building with a square tower topped with coloured tiles. The interior is a wonderful example of Baroque splendour. Wall are covered with C18th blue, yellow and white azulejo tiles and there is a lovely painted ceiling
The convent was a closed order and the only contact the Nuns had with the outside world was through a metal grille. At the back of the church are the metal grilles of the two choirs that separated the nuns from the congregation during services.
The high altar is set beneath an arch and is flanked by two side altars. In the centre is a C20th painting of the Assumption of the Virgin. The wonderful silver tabernacle was made by Madeiran goldsmiths in 1671. There are more altars in niches along the sides of the nave wall.
João Gonçalves who founded the convent is thought to be buried in the chancel. The family tomb is at the back of the church near the door.
The convent is open Monday – Saturday 10-12 and 3-5. The outer door onto the road is kept closed and there is an old fashioned bell pull to gain entry.
It is a steep walk up to the convent, but it is well worth visiting.
There are more pictures “here.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/otherholidays/madeira/funchal/churches/coventchurch/index.html
All my pctures of Madeira are “here.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/otherholidays/madeira/index.html