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Cidadela Art District – When History and Art come together


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Cascais’ Citadel is a set of fortresses built between the XV and XVII centuries to defend the coast, the access to Tagus river and also to prevent any attacks against Lisbon.

Cidadela Art District is a result of the most recent intervention made to this building, which also brought historic art and culture to the building.

A few centuries ago, Cascais bay was constantly threatened and even invaded by English pirates. To fight back, King John II of Portugal decided to build a tower. Throughout time, different buildings and reinforcements were added. However, it was during the XIX century – without further sights of pirates on the sea – King Louis decided to bring a new dynamic and purpose to this building. The king, who was a true lover of the sea, orders his subjects to adapt the Citadel into a resting place for the royal family, a Royal Palace. The royal family usually spent the months of September and October in Cascais, a fact that changed this town’s daily routine completely. The remains of their presence are still visible nowadays, especially in the architectural elements.

More recently, the old and noble Citadel was turned into an Art District. After a deep rebuilding inside, new spaces repopulated this space with life, ideas, innovation and culture, where contemporary art is the keyword.

This was a bold, sophisticated and vanguard project. On one hand it brought art into daily context, to the “street”. On the other, it used a non-obvious space to do it, giving it an unusual character.

Art truly lives here. Here you will find spaces for artistic encounters, for sharing projects. Artists’ work is valued and can be appreciated inside open studies or starting galleries. This fact makes the visitor not just a spectator but also an accomplice. This is part of its mission as well, to stir the waters of Culture in Cascais while splashing it with new ideas and projects.

How does this work? With 6 open studios, 6 galleries and with art invading every space and every corner of the Citadel, including shopping, leisure and restaurant area.

But there’s more to culture’s boldness. At “Déjà Lu” you will find a beautiful, cosy library with a very special characteristic. This is a solidarity library, which means that every book found in there has already been read and donated previously, while all the income obtained from the resale is donated to the Portuguese Down Syndrome Association.

Cascais makes sure it stays on the edge of innovation and culture without loosing sight of the importance of its history. Over the astonishing Cascais Bay, you will find excellent reasons to get involved within these walls and discover everything the Cidadela Art District has to offer you.

By Margarida Brito | Text and Images

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