Old shacks neighborhood gives way to garden in downtown Portimão [with video]

The gipsy community's shack district has been demolished and in its place, a new green area will appear in the heart of the city.

Project presentation on site – Photo: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação

Two centenary olive trees and the remains of a daughter-in-law with the pond beside it are the surviving elements of the old farm that will now be integrated into the garden that will appear on the land, now located in the center of Portimão, where, for 30 years, there was a shack district of the gypsy community.

The demolition of the tents started on September 23 of last year and ended on the 3rd of January of this year. It was accompanied by the relocation of the 28 Roma families residing there, in a total of more than 100 people, elsewhere in the municipality, in prefabricated houses installed in Vale da Arrancada.



Now, the land with more than one hectare (12 thousand square meters), located in a central area of ​​the city, next to the Market, the Manuel Teixeira Gomes Secondary School, the Fire Department and the Cemetery, will give way to a garden, with spaces for exercise or walking, shade, lawn, flowering meadows, a kiosk, benches for reading or resting. «It is a dream come true», guaranteed Isilda Gomes, mayor of Portimão, this morning, on the ground, during the presentation of the green area project.

To make this "old dream" come true, as the mayor never tired of repeating, the Chamber will invest 1 million euros.

Nuno Cruz, landscape architect and head of the Municipality's Green Spaces Division, revealed that the tender for the work should be opened «later this month», after which «an execution period of nine months».

Taking into account the normal deadlines for these procedures, the mayor expressed the hope that the new green park in the city could be inaugurated during the celebrations of the 25th of April next year.

This, of course, if companies appear willing to compete in the public tender. The Municipality had already opened another procedure, with a lower value, “but it was deserted”, Nuno Cruz recalled. «There is now this problem, in addition to the lack of companies to carry out these works, a situation that affects us, here in Portimão, but which is happening in the rest of the country».


The old daughter-in-law and one of the centenary olive trees – Photo: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação

And what will the new Portimão garden look like? Nuno Cruz recalled that the place was “an old walled farmhouse, in which there was no relationship with the outside”. Part of this wall and an old gate still exist today and this separation from the outside, with buildings and very busy streets, will be maintained, but now thanks to the modeling of the terrain and the vegetation that will be planted.

The main trees – such as the two hundreds of years old olive trees – will be maintained and integrated into the project, as well as the restoration of the masonry structure of the old water-wheel and the adjacent tank, which will have water again, to «alleviate» the environment. The daughter-in-law, Nuno Cruz revealed, “is completely crammed, so it was considered that it could not be put into operation”.

Next to the wheel-in-law and the tank, a kiosk will be created. Nearby, there will be a "zone of street workout», which is how to say, in good Portuguese, outdoor exercise.

Below the tank, a small amphitheater will appear, taking advantage of the gentle slope of the terrain. This is a space that could be used for small shows, but could also be «used by the school next door».

A new element in this garden will be the metallic structure, a kind of arbor, where the Manueline stonework of Quinta do Morais, which was next door, will be mounted.

The stonework, which was removed from the original house in the 90s, amid much controversy, to make way for the construction of several residential and service buildings (one of which is the Finance Office), have been kept in the Portimão Museum. But they will now be placed in a public place, «at a point with a visual connection to their original location», explained the head of the Green Spaces Division.


Nuno Cruz and Isilda Gomes presenting the project on site – Photo: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação

As for the vegetation to be planted, Nuno Cruz guaranteed that it will be “mainly autochthonous vegetation with low water requirements”. In a lower part of the land, «where the water flows naturally, different vegetation will be planted», adapted to the higher humidity. There will also be “grass areas, flowering meadows, shrubs, trees and shaded areas”.

«The land, which belonged to an old agricultural farm, lends itself to this and will create different environments, also in terms of vegetation».

It will be, guaranteed the landscape architect, «a very welcoming space, because it is all surrounded by vegetation».


Mayor Isilda Gomes thanked councilors Filipe Vital, Teresa Mendes and João Gâmboa, for the work and “pressure” exerted so that the demolition of the tents progressed and people were housed elsewhere, with more dignity, as well as the technicians and workers. of the Municipality, for the speed of its action of cleaning the land and for the quality of the project for the green area.

“We have to create these leisure spaces in the city, where people can feel a certain freedom, without the pressure of the buildings above, where they can run, walk and even read or rest”.

«I am sure that this space, in the center of the city, will be used a lot!», concluded the mayor of Portimão.

Today, next to the future garden, the first phase of the requalification of the entire area opened: the parking lot with 130 spaces (free), which will serve the Market, the Cemetery and the Secondary School. In this first phase, close to 400 thousand euros were spent. In total, parking and garden will cost close to 1,4 million euros.


Photos: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação