Culture capital confirmed

Prime Minister Durão Barroso has officially confirmed that Faro will be the cultural capital of Portugal in 2005. The city’s blossoming in the last two years and the region’s rich cultural history were the key factors in the decision.

Camâra President, José Vitorino, appeared delighted when he received the news from the Prime Minister, who said: “The Algarve region deserves this special attention.” Barroso went on to say that the award was an honour for the whole of the Algarve. “Faro will be the cultural centre, but naturally this will spread to the rest of the region, and people should take this opportunity to improve their towns.”

With Faro as the cultural capital of Portugal, Vitorino has said that there is a strong possibility of merging culture and tourism, something he considers an “important and inseparable marriage”, which will improve the quality of the region’s tourist offering.

The award means that Faro’s heritage, new buildings and entertainment initiatives will be publicised to the world. At the moment, one of the city’s main priorities is the construction of a new municipal theatre, situated at the southern entrance to the city. The project is already under way and will cost 10 million euros.The theatre was designed by architect Gonçalo Byrne and will be used for various shows and exhibitions. For the second time, the government has deliberately chosen to adopt a ‘cultural decentralisation’ stance, turning the focus away from major cities like Lisbon and Porto. The current cultural capital is Coimbra and the president of the Câmara there, Carlos Encarnação, visited Faro recently to ‘hand over the torch’ to Vitorino.