Centuries-old canons exhibited at Portimão Museum gain “National Treasure” status

Three of the ten 17th century canons which were recovered from the bottom of the Arade River between 1993 and 2006 have been classified as “National Treasures” – the highest recognition awarded by the national culture board (DGPC).

The canons are believed to have belonged to a Spanish ship which sunk in the river mouth, near Ponta do Altar, sometime between 1580 and 1640, the period during which the Iberian Union governed the Iberian Peninsula.

They are considered to be “one of the most significant collections of 17th century artillery” and “important evidence of the transoceanic navigation” of Spanish vessels which sailed along the Portuguese coast as a route to its colonies, says Portimão Council.

The canons are part of the local museum’s permanent exhibition ‘Portimão – Território e Identidade’ which can be visited between 2.30pm and 6pm on Tuesday and from 10am and 6pm between Wednesday and Sunday. Admission is free on Sunday between 10am and 2pm.

The seven other canons are undergoing restoration works at the National Centre of Underwater Archaeology in Lisbon.

Portimão Council says that the canons’ classification as a “National Treasure”, which was approved by the Museum, Conservation, Restoration and Cultural Heritage Section of the National Culture Council, has “strengthened and added quality” to the region’s cultural heritage.

It adds that the Algarve now has three “National Treasures”: the canons at Portimão Museum; the Roman mosaic of Neptune, God of the Sea, at Faro Museum; and Loulé’s 14th and 15th century minutes at the Loulé Archives.

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com