The Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Nova, also known as the “Convent of the Queen Santa Isabel”( Queen Santa Isabel´s Convent), was erected in the 17th century to replace the old medieval monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha, the victim of the periodic flooding of the Mondego River. It was a true Franciscan cloistered monastery and not just a convent.
It constitutes an important repository of Portuguese art from the 14th to the 18th centuries and holds the relics of Queen Santa Isabel, founder of the ancient monastery.
The convent of Santa Clara de Coimbra was founded at the beginning of the 14th century. Santa Isabel de Aragão, Queen of Portugal, wife of Dinis de Portugal, was the main benefactor of the institution in its beginnings, having chosen it as the place of her burial.
The constant flooding of the early monastery led to the decision to build a new building for the Poor Clare community. Thus, the works of the new convent began in 1649, with the project of João Torriano, Benedictine friar, chief engineer of the kingdom and professor of mathematics at the University of Coimbra. Several convent buildings were completed in 1677, when the last nuns moved. The church was completed and sacred in 1696.
The large cloister, built by Hungarian Carlos Mardel, was funded by João V de Portugal in 1733.