Faro's most beautiful church was founded in 1713 and completed in 1719, by wealthy King João V, who paid for its magnificent gilded interior (with the gold found in Brazil, a Portuguese colony at the time). Luckily, much of it survived the 1755 earthquake that destroyed almost everything else in Faro, but its twin-towered façade was altered after the disaster.
The side chapels date from between 1716 and 1786, and are dedicated to different saints. In the sacristy are half a dozen images of Christ, from 1731.
The dazzling golden decoration alone would be worth a visit, but the main attraction is a ghoulish chapel completely covered in human bones and skulls. It’s found behind the church, and was added in 1816, using the skeletons of over a thousand monks. At the entrance, accessed through the church, is an inscription that translates to “Stop here to contemplate that you’ll end up in this state.”
While this may sound creepy, these types of chapels weren’t that unusual in Portugal and other European countries (there’s an even more famous bones chapel in the city of Évora). When cemeteries were full, skeletons were exhumed and often transferred to churches, especially if they belonged to holy men.
Outside the church, the traditional Portuguese cobblestone pavement illustrates the seal of the city of Faro.
How to Get to Carmo Church
Carmo Church is located in Largo do Carmo, a square found just a 5-minute walk north from the marina.
Admission to Carmo Church
Tickets are €2.00 and are sold at the entrance. It opens on weekdays from 10am to 1pm and again from 3pm to 5:30pm, and on Saturdays just from 10am to 1pm. No tourist visits are allowed on Sundays, but the church opens for religious services in the morning (the bones chapel is not accessible on Sundays). Note that these opening hours may change at any time, without notice.