Islamic Centre to become more tourist friendly

By INÊS LOPES [email protected]

Tavira’s Islamic Centre, inaugurated in February, is soon to include information in English and access to the building will be easier, via the Praça da República.

Tavira Câmara recently responded to a series of questions raised by the Algarve Resident, following an article by contributor Lynne Booker about the centre, which we published in the May 18 edition. Lynne wrote that she was disappointed to find little information in English, apart from a video which was subtitled in the language.

“The lettering of the displays is eye-wateringly small and only in Portuguese. There is no English description except in the subtitles of the film on a loop. Nor is there a catalogue of the displays to buy and take away for study at leisure,” she said.

Another concern she had was the fact that to access the Islamic Centre, which is part of Tavira’s Municipal Museum, visitors have to use a back door, not easily located.

Tavira’s tourist information office occupies the ground floor of the same building as the Islamic Centre, but there is apparently neither connection nor cooperation between them. Lynne said: “I for one do not understand why it is not possible in these times of financial austerity to operate this building as an entity. To access the Islamic Centre itself, it is necessary to exit from the tourist office, go up through the Manueline gate, pass the Misericórdia, and enter the centre through a back door on what is effectively the first floor of the same building.”

Improvements planned

Before publication of Lynne’s article, the Algarve Resident contacted Tavira Câmara for a comment but this was not forthcoming. We persevered and nearly one month later Vice President Luís Nunes sent us a response.

Although the description of items on display at the centre followed international regulations, he said information for visitors was now being prepared in English.

Not only this, but a project to enable access to the Islamic Centre via the Praça da República was also being developed.

The Vice President said improvements to the Islamic Centre were continuously being made and that so far it had received a positive response from the “vast majority” of visitors, who often comment on the city’s good state of conservation and architectural beauty.

Luís Nunes was keen to point out that cooperation between the câmara and the tourism office had “always been good”.

The Islamic Centre of Tavira’s Municipal Museum has been 15 years in gestation and was at last opened on February 23, in the presence of Tavira Mayor Jorge Botelho.

Lynne did, however, say that the centre’s general ambience was modern and refreshing, while the display cases containing fragments of pottery recovered by Tavira’s archaeologists were good examples of the public architecture at which Portugal excels. With the recent improvements being made by the Câmara, the Islamic Centre will soon become a more welcoming place for visitors, while reinforcing the cultural offer of the city.

For more information about the Islamic Centre, please call Tavira Câmara on 281 320 532