Fascist heritage to be protected by Lisbon Câmara  .jpg

Fascist heritage to be protected by Lisbon Câmara 

LISBON CÂMARA is to catalogue and carry out an in-depth report into the state of architecture and documents in Lisbon dating from the Estado Novo (the Portuguese conservative authoritarian regime (1933-1972), following the army-led coup d’état of May 28, 1926 against the democratic First Republic).

The report will provide detailed information into the buildings and structures in the city built during the period.

The Mayor, Carmona Rodrigues has appointed PCP councillor Ruben de Carvalho for what he termed as “this special mission”, giving the councillor until January 31 to present his report.

The idea is that it will help the câmara preserve the memory of the buildings of the time, many of which can broadly be classified as Art Deco.

Unlike Germany, where the majority of Nazi architecture was destroyed during and after World War Two, Lisbon’s fascist architectural heritage has largely remained intact, with some exceptions such as the former Monumental Cinema, which was torn down in the 1980s to make way for the new Monumental shopping centre.

The architecture is characterised by its simple, fluid and stylised lines, motifs of classically inspired statues and motifs which adorn parks, buildings and public spaces.

Perhaps the best example of late Estado Novo style can be seen in the Joaõ XXI, Avenida da Roma, and Alvalade parts of Lisbon, which were constructed in the 1950s.

A particularly striking example of Estado Novo monumental sculpture is to be seen in the grandiose equestrian fountains at Alameda, while typical statues can be seen in Parque Eduardo VII and in the Praça de Londres gardens.

In the 1970s and 80s there was a tendency for architectural historians to blast the architectural style as soulless, empty and talentless, without any artistic or architectural merit.

However, revisionists now believe that that the classically pure lines and simplicity of form that marks the style has as much to do with the prevailing fashion of Art Deco and Modernism, which characterised the period between 1930 and 1960 through much of Europe and the United States.

In his brief, the Mayor told the newspaper, Portugal Diário that the project would pay special attention to aspects related to the period of Portugal’s political life during the Estado Novo: facts, figures and events between 1926 and 1974 including the struggle for democracy and liberty, and those that fell victim to repression.

“It is important not to turn the lights out on a period of our history, which is so important to our collective history,” said the Mayor.