It is one of the borough’s most iconic landmarks but Portimão’s perennial lack of money has left it overrun with garbage and graffiti, an unofficial theme park for rats, mice and scavenging strays.
This is why the council wants to get its hand on Praia da Rocha’s Fortaleza de Santa Catarina, mayoress Isilda Gomes has told Lusa news agency.
The rundown fortress dates back to the 17th century and was built to defend Silves and Portimão.
Its purpose, however, disappeared over the centuries and after a stint as the HQ for the country’s tax department, it fell into total neglect.
Indeed, there have been times when no one seemed to know who was responsible for the site.
This issue has now been resolved: the fortress is the responsibility of the Sines and Algarve Ports Administration – only that too is at sixes and sevens with itself and undergoing lots of changes (click here)
Meantime, the fortress quietly rots.
Hungry for a resolution, Isilda Gomes is thinking: ‘sea-themed museum’.
As she told Lusa, the fortress is a “symbol of the Portuguese discoveries, of the arrival and departure of generations. It is part of our history and our culture. We have to preserve that memory”.
A study by the National Civil Engineering Laboratory (LNEC) has concluded that renovations would be “very expensive” – another project the council just hasn’t got the money for, though EC funding “could be an option”.
For now, left wing MPs have also taken up the fight, presenting a draft resolution in parliament last month demanding “urgent renovation” of the Fortaleza which they claim has become a “danger to the public”.