The Igreja da Misericórdia (Church of Mercy) in Tavira was built between 1541 and 1551 and is considered to be one of the best examples of Renaissance architecture on The Algarve.
Before entering the church, take a moment to admire the Renaissance façade, believed to be the work of local architect and master stonemason, Andre Pilarte, who also worked on Lisbon’s Jeronimos Monastery. Above the elaborately carved portal is a niche on which stands a statue of Our Lady of Mercy, supported by angels and flanked by statues of Saints Peter and Paul. There are also depictions of the Portuguese and the city’s coats of arms.
The Church interior has whitewashed walls and a vaulted wooden ceiling supported by eight columns. There is a majestic, gold-painted altar and two side altars. On entering the church, the eye is immediately drawn to the striking blue and white azulejo tiles decorating the walls, believed to date from the 1760’s. These depict the fourteen Works of Mercy, both spiritual (acts of compassion supporting ones neighbour’s spiritual and emotional needs) and corporal (acts helping ones neighbours with their material and physical needs) as well as scenes from the life of Christ.