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Cathedral of Portalegre

Rehabilitation of the Cathedral of Portalegre, Cloister and Attached Spaces

Municipal Square, Portalegre

COMPETITION 2014: 1st PRIZE of the Invitational Competition for the Rehabilitation of the Cathedral of Portalegre, Cloisters and Attached Spaces

ARCHITECTS: Rui Barreiros Duarte and Ana Paula Pinheiro

Liturgical Furniture: Ana Paula Pinheiro

Landscape Architecture: Arpas

Rehabilitation of Worship areas: Built (2023)


The Rehabilitation Project of the Cathedral, Cloister and Annex Spaces is carried out within the scope of “Portugal 2020”.

In the proposal for intervention in the Cathedral of Portalegre, National Monument (1910), an attempt was made to enhance the existing heritage complex, through the restoration of the building and the creation of appropriate infrastructure.

The key concepts of the entire intervention were reversibility, sustainability, versatility and simplicity, with respect for Heritage.

This phase corresponds to an adaptation of a more comprehensive vision for the recovery and cultural dynamization of the Cathedral, constituting the 1st part of the Project's implementation.

According to these statements, the intervention was based on historical and constructive research carried out over the centuries and the intervention in 1940 carried out by the General Directorate of National Monuments, now complying with the rules defined and imposed by the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage DGPC, jointly the supervisory entity with the Regional Directorate of Culture of Alentejo DRECALEN.

The annex buildings built over time and which distorted the character of the building were removed, in order to clarify the authenticity of the Cathedral, allow adequate natural lighting and avoid infiltration.

Knowing how to add anonymity to interventions reflects the value and authenticity that guided the Project. It is worth highlighting the constructive and spatial clarification introduced, as well as the adaptation of materials that reflect historical principles, such as the traditional coruchéus tile covering. The creation of the cloister paneling in white Estremoz marble; the recovery, reorganization and clarification of tile patterns in wainscoting and architectural spaces; the constructive and spatial recovery of Coro Alto; the Bell Ringer's house and other spaces such as the Chapels and Sacristy; the creation of a new reception area, cloakroom and sanitary facilities; the lighting of the monument; liturgical furniture – altars, ambos, altar chair and benches for the faithful.

The intervention is multidisciplinary, with relevance to the entire Conservation of Mannerist painting in chapels and altars, and the use of appropriate materials and construction processes such as the recovery of roofs, water drainage, mortars and joints.

The chromaticism of the monument was a determining factor in the way the stones, mortars, paintings and joints were used. The lime coating from the 1940s that covered the paintings of the Cathedral's architecture persisted. Windows were opened to visualize the underlying pictorial intervention and any future intervention.



Photographer: Telmo Miller

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