Entering the new Exhibition Center of the Fortress of Sagres is to walk through the history of the Discoveries, naked and raw, with all its benefits, but also with the atrocities of the slave trade. The exhibition does not lack, for example, an astrolabe, the caravels, references to the Infante, but also an image of a slave ship. The dream of opening the new space, in the Fortress of Sagres, was old, but, guarantees those who know, «the wait was worth it».
A restored bicentennial door, which for a long time controlled the access to the Fortress, is one of the ex-libris of this Exhibition Center which was inaugurated this Sunday, November 13th.
This is where we come across, as soon as we enter: symbolically placed at the entrance, it serves almost as a decoy for all visitors.
The space is divided into several small rooms, where the history of the Discoveries is told, but also the history of the Fortress and that territory.
One of them speaks of S. Vicente, patron of both the Dioceses of the Algarve and Lisbon. It was in Sagres that the martyr's relics were located, before they were taken to Lisbon, believed to be at the behest of D. Afonso Henriques.
Infante D. Henrique is also represented, namely in a projection of the Panels of S. Vicente and in the recreation of the workspace of the son of D. João I.
As explained by Rui Parreira, archaeologist and museologist, responsible for the contents of the new Exhibition Centre, despite being «fictional», it is very «plausible» that the Infante actually worked in a room similar to the one that was recreated.
But one of the main strengths of this Exhibition Center is, in the words of Adriana Nogueira, regional director of Culture for the Algarve, to tell «the whole story: the good and the bad».
Therefore, the issue of human trafficking was not forgotten. In one of the rooms, just opposite the other that recreates the hold of a ship, we see a projection of a painting that portrays the inhumanity of a slave ship.
Next to it is also a copy of a slave handcuff, on loan from the Lagos Museum, the original of which is in the National Museum of Archeology. Slavery is, stressed Adriana Nogueira, a reality that “must be taken in its full dimension”.
The experience ends in a room, where a sphere is installed, into which people are invited to enter to watch a film.
The entire Exhibition Center also has audio guides, in different languages, and a first floor dedicated to exhibitions, which will be managed in partnership with the Center for Research in Arts and Communication (CIAC) of the University of Algarve.
The first exhibition is by the Algarve plastic artist Manuel Baptista and is called “Invisible Territories”. The objective, according to Adriana Nogueira, is for the space to have «two exhibitions a year».
But, to get to the «happy day» that was last Sunday, there was a long way to go.
The opening of the Exhibition Center, which coincided with the date of the death of Infante D. Henrique and was not attended by any member of the Government, was the culmination of a long process.
It all started in 2012, with the presentation of a first project, gained new momentum in 2018, when the project was updated, and finally advanced to the ground in 2021, thanks largely to the contribution of more than 1 million euros of funds from the European Union to the Operational Program CRESC Algarve 2020 and the Tourism Intervention (PIT) and Public Investments of Tourist Interest for the Algarve (PIPITAL) programs.
Today, space is a reality and this is «one more reason» to go to the Fortress of Sagres, one of the most visited national monuments in the country. To give you an idea, until October this year, there were already about 402 thousand people entering this monument, managed by the Regional Directorate of Culture of the Algarve.
“It was a difficult process, but the wait was worth it. Our work, from the people of the Regional Directorate of Culture, was tireless», concluded Adriana Nogueira.
The Exhibition Center will be open every day and can now be visited. Entrance is included in the price of admission to the Fortress itself.
Photos: Pedro Lemos | Sul Informação