The construction of the convent Convento de Nossa Senhora da Assunção (Our Lady of Assumption) began in 1519, on the initiative of two nuns from Beja, who were sponsored by the Queen Leonor, commander of the town of Faro at that time.
The first phase of the work was late Gothic, but in about 1530, Queen Catarina, the wife of King João III, to whom the town had recently been granted, sponsored a second phase, which included work in the Renaissance style in the cloisters and on the outer doorway to the church).
Completed in 1548, this is one of the first cloisters built in proto-Renaissance style in Portugal. Decorative details include gargoyles in grotesque shapes and with fantastic creatures typical of the early Renaissance.
Another characteristic feature of the architecture of this period is the main doorway which, like the cloister, was built by master Afonso Pires and which features a rectangular surround framed by finely worked pilasters.
This building is currently home to Faro Municipal Museum, which was founded in 1894. Here, visitors can see an interesting exhibition of old paintings, featuring 17th and 18th century works by Portuguese, Italian and Spanish painters. There are also three archaeology exhibitions, featuring collections of Islamic pottery and Roman inscriptions, sculptures and mosaics.
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