€2m overhaul for Porto landmark as city contemplates ‘building register’ following fires

in World · 02-05-2019 09:48:00 · 0 Comments

A Porto landmark is to undergo a €2 million refurbishment including the improvement of its electrics and to solve termite damage, in a bid to preserve its cultural heritage and halt wear and tear.

A public tender to the value of €308,800 has been launched for the Santa Clara church – a classified national monument and a popular tourist attraction – for another phase of interventions which will this time address the “improvement of the exterior, access and electrical installations”.

The tender was launched on Tuesday by the Regional Directorate for Culture (DRCN), which expects to fulfil the monument’s €2.3 million global overhaul investment during the first half of next year.

This second phase of work will take around six months to complete, and follows phase one – a €300,000 intervention staged in 214 and 2015 to treat termites and improve insulation, draining and the condition of wooden components.

The DRCN stresses that the Santa Clara Church is a “relevant testimony of a female monastic group” constituting, “together with the Church of São Francisco do Porto, one of the best examples of the so-called gilded churches of the Johannine Baroque style, preserving its Gothic architectural structure that dates back to the 15th century”.

Works are also currently ongoing to preserve and restore the Church’s artistic interior, covering paintings in the nave and main chapel, altarpieces, sculptures, ceilings, parietal coverings, mural paintings, tiles, stone elements and easel paintings.
Structural reinforcements and complementary conservation works have already been carried out.

The DRCN clarifies that this second phase of rehabilitation is “85 percent reimbursed by the Operational Programme North 2020 and European Regional Development Fund, with the patronage of the Brotherhood of Clerics and Millennium BCP Foundation”.
The Church of Santa Clara is located in Porto’s historical centre, which has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.

In related news, the parish authorities in Porto’s historical centre are contemplating submitting a register of buildings in the UNESCO-classified area to the city council, with information on the use to which the buildings are being put, as well as their state of conservation, amid concerns following a spate of fires in recent months.

“About a month ago we set a group of employees to map all the buildings and register each building with a photograph and the function it has,” said António Fonseca, central Porto parish mayor.

“This work is being carried out and we will pass on to the mayor the record of buildings in the historic centre of Porto”, he stressed.
The announcement was made at a session of Porto’s Municipal Assembly on Monday, where Fonseca called members’ attention to the fact that for decades, despite many buildings being in a poor state, no fires broke out - unlike in recent months.

“For 30 years, there were many buildings in the historic centre of Porto, some completely run down, some empty, with totally unsafe electrical installations, and there were no fires,” he said, adding: “Interestingly, from one moment to the other, in some buildings, some of them in better condition than others that have already been refurbished, we have seen fires.”

While stressing that he was not accusing anyone in particular, Fonseca said that “something is going on.”

In the case of a building in the centre of Porto, where 19th-century Portuguese writer Almeida Garrett was born and which was gutted by a fire last Saturday, it had been vacant for two years.

The causes of the fire are unknown.

It broke out a month after the city council announced that it was considering purchasing the building to create a museum of Liberalism.


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