Lagos bids for São Roque fortress

Lagos bids for São Roque fortress

Lagos councillors are once again in talks with the government to take back control of the rundown Forte de São Roque (also known as the Meia Praia fort).
Despite being considered a “monument of public interest” back in January, the 17th century building is in a terrible condition and has been “left to abandon”.
And while Lagos council has all sorts of ideas to bring it back to life – plans include turning the structure into an “environmental activity centre or museum” – its hands are tied as the fort is the responsibility of the Portuguese government.
Two previous bids to “take back control” (in 2004 and 2007) by the council under mayor Júlio Barroso have failed. But culture chief Maria Fernanda Afonso claims this time the Socialist administration under female mayoress Joaquina Matos is “strongly committed” to getting the fort “rehabilitated and put to the use of the community”.
Speaking to Lusa news agency, she explained the management of the fort was given to the government by Lagos council in 1873 – but that there are “no documents” that the hand-over was legal.
Thus, there may be a good chance a deal can be made.
It could not come a moment too soon, adds Afonso as the fort in the state that it is does neither Lagos nor the government any good.
Local historian José António Martins agrees, saying the relic of the 17th century’s grand era of construction “needs to be recovered as urgently as possible”.
Sadly, the little fort has a long history of hardship. Partially destroyed by Portugal’s major 1755 earthquake, it was recovered in 1766 but decommissioned in the early 1800s. It was eventually turned into a base for Portugal’s Guarda Fiscal until the 1950s.
Since then it has been in limbo, visited regularly by graffiti artists, drug users and fly-tippers.