All the buildings of the Santa Clara Convent are a genuine patrimonial jewel, not only because of the quality of their contents but mainly because of the fact that these buildings from the end of the 15th century have always served the purpose for which they were originally built 500 years ago: as a convent for Franciscan nuns. This convent was founded at the end of the 16th century by the second captain of Funchal, João Gonçalves da Câmara, and the original construction started around the small Our Lady of Conception chapel, to be amplified later progressively.
During the 16th and 17th century convents played a very important social role. To the nobles, who were often absent on royal missions for a longer period, the convents served as a secure place where they could leave their unmarried daughters. On the other side, to the numerous widows who found shelter in a convent, it meant much desired security, not only in the moral and religious but also economic aspect.
During the centuries the church went through several modifications and it was also partially destroyed by the cannon fire of 1917. When it was restored, fortunately the magnificent silver tabernacle with cabinet and urn could be recovered. Among many other treasures you will find the walls of the nave completely covered with glazed tiles from the 18th century representing the famous ‘Santa Clara pattern’. An important Gothic tomb from the end of the 15th century is situated at the entrance.