THE WOODEN roof of the Cathedral of the Algarve in Silves could collapse at any moment because the timbers are so rotten.
The central nave and two lateral aisles have been cordoned off at the Cathedral Sé de Silves.
The building, classified as a Listed National Monument, has been showing signs of dilapidation and deterioration for some years and part of the roof fell in during a religious service, luckily not harming anyone inside the church.
According to the Cathedral’s priest, Father Carlos de Aquino, who has been responsible for the Parish of Silves for a year, the relevant architectural heritage authority – Instituto Português do Património Arquitectónico (IPPAR) and the Director-General of National Monuments (DGEMN) had been alerted on various occasions to the state of the roof.
This year, following yet another letter warning of the state of the roof, various DGEMN surveyors inspected the building and concluded that the roof “was not in danger of caving in and that the priest shouldn’t worry about it further”.
In May, a wooden beam came down during a service and the church was shut for a week.
Faced with mountains of evidence on the general disrepair of the structure, the IPPAR decided to inspect the structure. Its initial findings suggest that the main roof supports were displaying visible signs of rot with various sections in danger of imminent collapse.
So as to guarantee the safety of the many tourists that annually visit the Cathedral Sé de Silves it has being debated to either restrict access to part of the church or close it altogether.
According to Carlos de Aquino, the roof will require a complete overhaul, replacing much of the structure, which means the IPPAR will have to put the work out to competitive tendering, which could take several months.
Restoring the roof to its former glory won’t be easy and could take two or three years, not only leaving the parishioners without an alternative to celebrate mass, but also meaning that one of the city’s main tourist attraction will be off limits.
As the main example of gothic architecture in the region, it is the third most visited tourist attraction after the Fortress of Sagres and the Castle of Silves.
However, the church isn’t only becoming dilapidated on the inside; the entire façade is in need of restoration and attention. Only a couple of weeks ago a piece of wall fell onto a car.