The São Francisco Convent is a brand new Cultural place in Coimbra. Opened on 8th April, this new centre will receive several cultural events, already thought for the next months, from music to contemporary circus, theatre, events and conferences.
Situated on the left Mondego’s river side, nex to the park of Portugal dos Pequeninos, the S. Francisco Convent has known several changes in its history. Built in the 17th century, in 1888 it became a textile factory and was deactivated in the 80s. in 1995 the building was purchased by Coimbra City Council, knowing afterwards several projects of rehabilitation which were never accomplished.
As an example, there were a few delays in 2010 with the finding of bones underground and for suffering several floods during its construction.
In spite of several setbacks, the works have finally ended. The architect Carrilho da Graça was responsible for transforming the cloisters into a great auditorium and Gonçalo Byrne was the responsible architect for the church and envolving area as well for the parking area.
The space is being managed by Coimbra’s City Council with the clear purpose of placing the city in the country’s big events. The convent’s size is comparable with the Cultural Centre of Belém, in Lisbon. Speaking to the online newspaper Observador, the head of culture department underlines that the project has 3 components: the old church, the cloisters and a new auditorium with 1225 places, besides several multipurpose rooms up to 100 places and adds ”in full use, the convent can have around 5 0000 people at the same time.” The city councilor predicts that S. Francisco Convent will be able to attract people not only from the city, but also from the centre region, whole country and Spain as well.
The program for the next three months is almost settled and counts with the participation of Portuguese musicians such as Mão Morta, JP Simões, Pedro Burmester and Mário Laginha. As for international performers the convent will receive in May Michael Nyman and in june, the Brazilian singer, Maria Rita. Besides music it will be in the cultural program an International Festival of New Circus and theatre, The opening received the presentation of a theatre play, Os Bichos, by the company O Bando, based on the written work by Miguel Torga. It was, 26 years ago that this same play was performed in the same place during University biannual.
Besides the Cultural program, this room will also be a Congress and Events Centre in which tourism and local business will benefit from.