Investor for Monchique Convent wanted!

Building classified as Property of Public Interest became part of the Revive Program

Photo: Bextrel – CC BY-SA 4.0

The Convent of Nossa Senhora do Desterro, in Monchique, is one of the 15 properties across the country that have been part of, since June, the III phase of the Revive Programme, which aims to promote the «safeguarding and enhancement of public heritage with heritage value» and its «economic and tourist use».

The rehabilitation and reuse of this old convent is one of the Monchique Council's oldest projects, but it has only now been possible to look for an investor to carry out the necessary works, thanks to the Revive Programme.

The building, quite dilapidated and subject to theft, over the years, of some of its most characteristic elements, such as the tiles that decorated the old refectory, is now almost entirely owned by the Municipality of Monchique.

 

What remains of the refectory tile panel – Photo: Bextrel – CC BY-SA 4.0

 

«We are only missing a small portion, for which we have already signed the Promissory Purchase and Sale Contract, but we have not yet been able to draw up the deed. But it can be considered that the entire Convent is already our property», said Paulo Alves, mayor of Monchique, to the Sul Informação.

The property, which rises on the hillside overlooking the town of Monchique, was visited on Wednesday by the Secretary of State for Tourism, during the trip that the official made to various investments in the county, as part of the information sessions of the «Roteiro + Interior Tourism".

What is intended with the integration of the Convent of Nossa Senhora do Desterro in the Revive Program is, according to the mayor Paulo Alves, «to find a solution for the tourist and cultural valences» that the historic building may have.

«We hope that private investors appear who manage to rehabilitate the building, adapting it to new functions, but maintaining a part of it for public use, allocating there funds that the Chamber, alone, cannot gather», explained the president of the municipality .

«This is a process that has been going on for many decades, but now there is finally the prospect of a solution, as it is the first time that the building is enrolled in this Revive Programme», he added.

As for what could be done in the old Convent, Paulo Alves says that, «when there is an interested private investor, then what will be done will be defined». It will be, the mayor has no doubts, «an investment for many millions of euros».

«Right now, we are only working on including the Convent in the Revive programme», he concluded.

 

Ruined interior of the church – Photo: Muffin

 

Revive is a joint program of the governmental areas of Economy, Culture, Finance and Defence, developed in close articulation with local authorities.

Its main objective is to recover and enhance public heritage and reinforce the attractiveness of regional destinations.

For the Secretary of State for Tourism, Commerce and Services, «the launch of the III Phase of the Revive Program is a sign of the vitality and importance of this program in the requalification and economic use of public real estate assets with architectural, patrimonial, historical and cultural value, granting a new opportunity for properties in an advanced state of degradation».

At the presentation session of the new lines of financing and initiatives for enhancing tourism in the interior, which took place at Parque da Mina, in Monchique, Secretary of State Nuno Fazenda said that, together with the president of Turismo de Portugal, «we have been travel through the interior of the country, to realize the instruments to implement the projects».

One of the instruments presented in Monchique was a new support line for inland tourism with 15 million euros.

As for the Interior Tourism Agenda, Nuno Fazenda underlined that the objective is to "mobilize concrete measures and support for the interior, where the Algarve is also included".

For his part, José Apolinário, president of the Coordination and Regional Development Commission (CCDR) of the Algarve, stressed that «the interior Algarve and the low-density areas represent a natural Algarve to be explored», which, in some areas of the territory, « it still has poor internet coverage, with the 5.G tender being a response that is eagerly awaited. Monchique is a good example of this natural Algarve, nature tourism, unique experiences and landscapes».

 

 

 

O Convent of Nossa Senhora do Desterro, in Monchique, was founded in 1631 by Pero da Silva, who was Viceroy of India. The Convent belonged to the Third Order of São Francisco, and its religious architecture is baroque.

On the frontispiece of what remains of the church, there is still a coat of arms of the founder's family.

The building was destroyed by the 1755 earthquake and was later rebuilt.

The Convent was eventually closed in 1834, as part of the extinction of religious orders in Portugal, having been sold at public auction in 1842 to various owners.

The image of Nossa Senhora do Desterro, from the XNUMXth century, as well as other elements from the church, were taken to the Hermitage of São Sebastião, in Monchique, where they are still to be found.

But the Convent continued to deteriorate, accentuating the state of ruin of most of the buildings that compose it.

It has been, since 1981, in the process of being classified as a Property of Public Interest.

In 1983, when the socialist Carlos Tuta was president of the Chamber, the autarchy began a long process for the acquisition of land for the convent, which is still not concluded.

The purchase project was continued later, from 2009, by the social-democratic mayor Rui André, but it was always hampered by the high number of owners, some of them unknown, of the various parcels into which the property and the surrounding land were being divided.

In 2003, an international public tender was opened to carry out restoration work on the convent building, and the following year, a project worth five million euros was approved by the then Portuguese Institute of Architectural Heritage.

This project foresaw the installation of a hotel unit, perhaps an inn, with 28 beds in 24 rooms.

The land around the convent would also be recovered, including the tanks and the emblematic Fonte dos Passarinhos, with plans to install a swimming pool.

But the project never came to fruition, since vast parts of the Convent were still not owned by the City Council.

During the Monchique fire in 2018, the building was threatened by flames, which consumed much of the surrounding trees, but left the ruined convent unharmed.

 

Sources: Monumentos.Gov.pt and Wikipedia

 

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